By Comrade Albert Nyakundi Amenya
In order to witness the needed change, Kenya needs to borrow leaf from the exemplary determination and courageous disposition from countries like, Singapore Malaysia, China and cities like Dubai.
Government, I am told, is the strongest institution in any society. But since independence, our own government has continued to make history in the negative, what with the endless list of scandals: Goldenberg, Triton, Anglo leasing among others. As a melee of confusion continues to envelope the saga and effort by President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto on the war against graft, we must find out where the rain hit us first so as to unyoke ourselves.
Not surprising, the obsolete culture where fatheaded political sycophants who excelled at purging disloyal apparatchiks from their masterâ€™s politburo is not yet vanished from our polity. As a continent, Africa is baffled as to why those who have been swaddled in privilege and protected by democracy could be so uppity as to opt for totalitarianism and kakistocracy.
History tells me Kenya, China, Singapore and Dubai have a roughly similar history and circumstances. Records show that all of them were once considered as Third World Countries and were at some point termed emerging markets.
Today, all the others have joined the league of First World; only Kenya remains distant in the league of a Third World Nations. Conversely, nobody refers to Malaysia, China, Dubai and Singapore as emerging markets anymore. China single handedly emerged from behind to overtake all European countries in terms of the economy and size and has now overtaken Japan to emerge the worldâ€™s second largest economy.
According to economists, China is poised to become the worldâ€™s largest economy shortly. The three other aforementioned states, Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai have more variegated demographics than Kenya in terms of religion, tribe and race.
One factor that separates Singapore, Malaysia Dubai and China from Kenya is leadership â€“ consistent leadership. China had Deng Xiaoping, Singapore had Lee Kuan Yew, Malaysia had Mahathir Mohamad and Dubai has Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Decades back, Malaysia envied Kenya, currently, Kenya envies Malaysia. Sometimes back, Singapore admired Kenya, now, Kenya admires Singapore. Methinks something went amiss somewhere.
At independence in 1965, Singapore was hopeless. It was too small and so poor to have a bright future. There were no resources at all. In abject desperation, Singapore wanted to remain with Malaysia but the Malaysians kicked them out. They assumed that Singapore was a liability. Lee Kuan Yew decided to go the whole hog by taking the bull by the horns. He was supported by the top minds in the country such as Goh Keng Swee, a former education, finance, defense and Deputy Prime Minister.
When he took over the helm, Lee Kuan Yew had no government service experience. The only thing that he had was vision, character and courage â€“ ingredients of paramount importance that a leader needs to change a nation. The same He resolved to build the largest seaport in the world and indeed, he succeeded.
He wanted to have the best airport in the world and he succeeded. He decided to build the most beautiful and cleanest city in the world and he succeeded. Even though Singapore did not produce a drop of crude oil, Lee Kuan Yew decided to make his country an oil-rich nation. Without a shadow of doubt, he succeeded.
Today, Singapore through several multinational indigenous companies refines almost 2 million barrels of oil on a daily basis and exports to countries like Kenya. But the first thing to put remember about Singapore is her strict adherence to the rule of law.
In Singapore, corruption is punished harshly. Mohammed Al Maktoum is the Dubai ruler, and, in his book, My Vision â€“ Challenges in the Race for Excellence, he expounds that what people see in Dubai today, is a tip of an iceberg compared to what his ultimate vision for his beloved country.
With its tallest buildings in the world, Dubai today looks like a utopian city. If the current Dubai, which one might think is city running on steroids, has not begun yet, then, I wonder what Sheikh Maktoum is up to. Methinks he obviously intends to disgrace the unsuccessful world leaders that have no visions for their countries. But, in a nutshell, that is what vision is all about.
Kenya needs new leadership. We need our own Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew, Mohamed Al Maktoum and Mahathir Mohamad. In fact, we do not even need to reinvent any wheel. Important to know, before Deng embarked on his revolution journey, he first visited Singapore in 1978 on a benchmarking tour and shared with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. As if that was not enough, he also visited Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
To sharpen his vision further, Deng visited the United States and to observe the models of leadership and improve them. Obviously, Al Maktoum had a vision of making Dubai a First World nation and a tourist destination for the pleasure of Arabs in the Middle East.
Instead of letting his citizens travel to the United States and Europe for vacation, he sought to create an oasis of comfort in the Middle East where they would prefer, and he succeeded.
In order to witness the needed change, Kenya needs to borrow a leaf from exemplary determination and courageous disposition from countries like, Singapore Malaysia, China and cities like Dubai. Sheikh Maktoum has succeeded even beyond his expectations because not only the Arabs, even the Africans and Europeans now patronize Dubai as a shopping and vacation spot.
In his quest and vision to create the United States and Europe in the Middle East, he outdid even the Americans and the Europeans. Like he once said, the race for excellence has no finish line. One important thing that is common to the countries used as case studies is that they are well secured.
In Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore and China everyone is unafraid of being shot, bombed, or kidnapped at any time of the day or night. Thugs are afraid of committing what they commit the worst because the big brother â€“ CCTV cameras â€“ is watching them from every nook and cranny of the cityâ€™s outskirts.
I visit these countries, so I should know better. Therefore, the reasons are straightforward. In these countries, corruption is punished severely. In China for instance, certain levels of corruption carry death sentence.
A serious leader must not forget the fact that corruption can kill his country and treat the evil with the contempt it deserves. Kenyans must be valiant enough to raise their standards. They must refuse to run out of town during the fiercest intimidation and political terrorism orchestrated by a few rogue politicians.
Human Rights stalwarts must not be cowed when defending the rights of the underprivileged. The tenacity of the people of Kenya mustnâ€™t allow them to go to sleep until the graft is laid to rest. By taking our leaders to task, we must insist that our votes count. We must emulate a sterling example of the aforementioned countries.