Setting the Stage for Liberia’s ‘Great Leap Forward’

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China’s current position as the second global superpower is a result of her radical economic program, The “Great Leap Forward”, initiated in 1958 by revolutionary leader Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Great Leap Forward, said Clemenceau Urey, founder and President of Liberia’s Forum for Societal Change (FSC), was Mao’s attempt to modernize China’s economy so that by 1988, China would have an economy that rivaled the United States. This was after Mao had toured China and concluded that the Chinese people were capable of anything; and the two primary tasks that he felt they should target were industry and agriculture.

Singapore, under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, also initiated similar policies and programs, channeled in similar fashion that yielded tremendous results.

Who knows, Liberia could be the next success story of such a robust economic program.

Mao and Lee, the political leaders of these two modern and progressive countries, might have been the vision bearers, but Liberia’s case is being proffered by some like-minded eminent citizens who have organized themselves into a group coined the ‘FSC’ who want to bring similar initiatives to Liberia.

The FSC believes that Liberia’s problems can be solved with collectivism—no sitting on the fence—in a robust economic program.

“If it worked in China and Singapore, it can work here, too. It just requires commitment and hard work and sacrifices that these two Asian nations employed in their development program,” the head of FSC, Urey, declared.

In China, some tough or radical decisions had to be taken when landlords and wealthier peasants had their land holdings forcibly redistributed to poorer peasants. Urey said similar radical actions are also needed here to properly position Liberia for a better future.

The Forum for Societal Change, a legally registered group, is comprised of eminent Liberians from all walks of life. Mr. Urey, who along with other members of the forum, were installed over the weekend at a local resort, noted that Liberia needs not just change.

The FSC was formed to resolve several discussions among well-meaning Liberians regarding the matters of governance in our country when compared to our many years of independence and other countries in the sub-region and beyond.

“Our country’s infrastructures and other facets are below average according to the IMF’s 2016 report. Having travelled to countries in Africa and other parts of the world, we need to take it into our own hands to change the status quo of our country,” he declared.

“It saddens me to keep hearing and even seeing that Liberia is counted among the poorest nations in Africa and the world at large,” Mr. Urey lamented. “These discussions will focus on knowing the reasons behind the slow pace of development in Liberia and treading a new course to help change the story around.

“First among our concerns is that we must allow unity to be the hallmark of our existence and love for each other and our country needs to be strong. We need to do away with hate if we must accelerate the change we are yearning for.”

“FSC,” Mr. Urey explained, “will hold politicians and every other citizen accountable in making sure that the upcoming elections will be issues-based rather than personalities-based.”

FSC, also known as Liberia for Change, has developed a “master plan” for Liberia that seeks to advance ideas for discussion among Liberians as the country transitions towards elections, on the endless possibilities for massive economic participation of the majority of compatriots, both at home and abroad.

Liberia is at a crossroads, Urey noted, with UNMIL already gone and the dwindling goodwill of the donor community.

“As we launch the Liberians for Change Movement, it now becomes profoundly important to sensitize every Liberian, despite their political persuasions, to seriously reflect on the best possible ways to transform the country for the prosperity of its people,” he averred.

“The onus is now on Liberians grasping for positive change, prosperity, sustainability and stability to discuss in every neighborhood how the following proposed economic inclusion policies for Liberians will shape the destiny of our motherland over the next 15 years, beginning 2018.

“We will ensure that the government pushes through legislation to render null and void in 2018, all exclusivity or monopoly rights of all imported products and liberalize the commerce and trade environment of the country,” he asserted.

The installing officer at the ceremony, counselor Negbalee Warner, lauded the initiative but strongly advised that it should be void of politics.

The forum should not be selective in tackling or discussing issues that confront the society, Warner cautioned.

“The guide of the future is the present and the past,” said the counselor, who is also Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes Law School, University of Liberia. “So we should do all we can to ensure that we build a better Liberia for the future so we all can be part of history. We should discuss a range of issues but without predispositions,” the counselor admonished.

He urged that Liberians of every background should be members of the Forum.

Meanwhile, Mr. Urey pledged that the FSC will not form part of any political party but will help voters make informed decisions during voter registration and the elections.

“Our people will be assisted to know the qualifications and track records of the candidates,” he said.

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