Lee Kuan Yew, Deng Xiaoping: Can We Find a Leader Who Can Help Liberia as These Two Helped Their Countries?

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A patriotic Liberian, Clemenceau Blayon Urey, who hails from deep inside Grebo country, Maryland County, and aristocratic Careysburg, Montserrado County, has published a forthright, frank and profound think piece in last Friday’s Daily Observer, calling for a revolution in the Liberian mind, attitude and behavior.

This change, he said, will enable our country to take the “Great Leap Forward” in the same way Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping of Singapore and China, respectively, did it for their countries.

The two, because of their PERSONAL EXAMPLES of resolute and uncompromising commitment to positive change, succeeded in helping their two nations take the Great Leap Forward. Both were earlier very similar to Liberia—poor and backward. Liberia, however, was positively different in one respect: We remained mineral, land and timber-rich; while Singapore was not. All Singapore had was its people. China had some minerals, but nothing compared to its desperately impoverished billion plus population.

But thanks to Singapore’s visionary, hardworking and results-oriented leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who tolerated absolutely NO CORRUPTION and did so by his personal example, and China’s Deng Xiaoping, they transformed their impoverished nations into two of the world’s richest and most progressive.

The average Singaporean earns at least US$25,000 per annum, while the per capita income of Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic, is a dismal US$209 per annum, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) disclosed yesterday! This indicates a near US$100 drop from a few years ago when that figure was US$300 or more! It makes all Liberians’ hearts sink!

China’s Mao Tse-tung taught his people SELF RELIANCE and HARD WORK. He was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping, who wisely put a capitalist spin on the country’s communist ideology, and turned China into the world’s second largest economy. Today, can you believe it, China is able to lend money—trillions of dollars—to the great United States?

How did these two nations succeed so decisively and so quickly in our lifetime? It is because both took a Great Leap Forward!

Oh, Leadership! Will you, can you ever show your true face in Liberia?

Why is it that most Liberians call themselves Christians and have yet failed to follow the example of their spiritual leader, Jesus Christ? He was indeed the most powerful man that ever walked this earth, but what did He do with power? He used it not for Himself, but to help other people, to lift them from spiritual depravity and lead them closer to God, to raise them from sickness and even death, as in the case of Lazarus.

But see what Liberia’s leaders have done with power. The most powerful and richest President Liberia ever had was William V.S. Tubman. But what did he do with power? We made considerable progress under his reign, though nothing compared to Singapore, which was at the same stage of development as
Liberia in 1960. But Tubman also used power to prolong his rule—27 years; and enriched himself, some of his associates and his children. If today they are no better off than most of us, it is not because he left them poor as he did most Liberians. But remember, it is not what you have but what you do with it.

Remember Jesus’ story of the Ten Talents?

Clemenceau Urey said he was motivated to write his article because every time he returned home he saw no change in Liberia’s despicably poor and backward landscape, contrasted with the glittering development in places he had visited, and he felt very bad.

All of us face this dismal, mindboggling and shattering experience when we return home.

In his perceptive article, Urey called for a revolutionary change in Liberians’ minds, attitudes and behavior. Unfortunately, the man he referred to in this connection — the radio talk show host Dr. Larry Bropleh, “Changing Minds and Changing Attitudes”— proved no better when he and his two close relatives, Broplehs all, were given power. All three of them left government under a cloud of corruption. So despite all his intellect and eloquence, Larry Bropleh is NOT THE ONE to be preaching change in mind and attitude.

Oh Leadership! When will any of us demonstrate true leadership as did Christ by the way He used power—not for himself, but to uplift others?

Oh leadership! Let each of those running for president of Liberia seriously listen to and ponder the cry, the lamentation in this Editorial— “Oh Leadership! When will we ever get a leader that uses power the way Jesus did—the way Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping did—not for themselves, but to lift their people and countries and carve a substantively positive difference in their lives?

Let each of our presidential candidates look at the difference these three leaders – Christ, Lee and Deng – made, and determine the difference between them and most Liberian leaders, especially since Edwin Barclay, who rescued Liberia from bankruptcy (the Firestone loan) and, more important, from imperial colonization following the 1930 Fernando Po crisis.

Our people should remember three things from Clemenceau’s article: First, Liberians must become serious in mind, attitude and behavior in EVERYTHING we do.

Second, Liberians should become more patriotic, putting our country FIRST every time. Think of Liberia’s cleanliness before throwing one cigarette butt or any kind of trash on the ground.

And third, let us this time CHOOSE VERY CAREFULLY our leaders—presidential and legislative—in 2017. Examine each candidate’s character, integrity, tract record. Look how selfishly our current legislators have approached their work, having totally forgotten us who elected them, remembering only themselves and how much richer they can become.

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