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A TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN LEGEND

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I have heard over and over that Liberia, as the first independent Republic in Africa, has failed to take up leadership role and that the younger countries whose independence she has fought for are today taking the lead. I have also heard many that blamed Liberia’s failure on past leadership for, as they say, our leaders were not dreamers and were not tomorrow’s thinkers.

Many also believed that from independence up until now many of our leaders have failed to demonstrate true leadership something they believed may be due to the lack of vision.

Our Fallen legend was a hero and a transformational leader. He was Prime Minister of Singapore; a country that was once known as the poorest country in Asia. But today, and through his work and effort Singapore became one of the richest countries and a financial center in Asia. Today Singapore is a tourist destination.

Let me give you the achievements of our fallen hero during his reign as Prime Minister of Singapore. 

Singapore started as part of the Sumatran Srivijaya Kingdom, but became part of the British Empire in 1826. In 1959, Singapore was granted independence. But the country didn’t do well. The Country’s leader – our fallen hero – felt that the country had been cast adrift-with few prospects and little hope. There was only one thing to do: Work themselves out of their horrible situation.

Our fallen legend wrestled with the problem until he had a plan. He knew that a turnaround was possible, but it would take a generation to do it. His goal was to create First World conditions in a third world country. And this is how he decided to do it. First he brought in industries – that many low skilled workers would be employ. Secondly, he created Public Housing – he wanted to improve the people’s quality of living and to inspire them. They would move into better housing, but they would pay for it. Thirdly, he sends people to school – the only way for the country to improve was for the people to improve themselves. He would make education affordable for everyone. Fourth, he set up a banking system – the goal was nothing short of making Singapore the financial center of Asia. Fifth, he encouraged international travel – Singapore would become a business and tourist destination with a world-class airport.

Our fallen Hero’s goal was lofty and his plan ambitious. Even though he sought help from the United Nations, things didn’t go smoothly at first and so he and the people of Singapore persevered. First they received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from the World Bank and the countries of England and Japan. Next he brought in experts from around the world to help them, carefully, selecting representatives from countries who led in their fields: Japan and Germany: technical advisors to set up factories. Sweden and Holland: experts on banking and finance. Israel: army advisors. New Zealand and Australia: air force and naval advisors. Then they brought in twelve hundred companies from the United States and Japan.

Today Singapore is involved in helping Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Vietnam, East Timor, and Kuwait. Good Leadership is the reason for Singapore’s growth. 

Our fallen hero is no else but Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore.

Fellow Liberians, do we see the Singapore story here in Liberia today? Do our leaders exhibit quality leadership that could transform this country? Does their hearts beat only for Liberia? Do we practically see good leadership in this country – something that would give us hope for generations to come?

There is truly a clarion call for leaders in Liberia because there is a great dearth of effective and qualitative leadership in this country. There is a dire need for men and women, who will take charge, give direction and exert influence. The painful truth is that many are too consumed with irking out a living that the thought of influencing others does not cross their minds. Very few venture to be leaders, very few dare to attempt or make a move to give direction. 

I urge each and every one of us in Liberia to encourage leadership development and as well emulate the leadership example of Lee Kuan Yew and the sky will be our limit.

(Chealy Brown Dennis is a much sought after motivational speaker and offers training in leadership and business development concept and planning, creative sales and marketing, strategic planning and team building. He can be contacted through email at: dennisbc2011@yahoo.com or on phone at: 0886-264-611 or 0776545394)