Looking to Taiwan

IT has been said on several occasions that Saint Lucia shares many similarities with Taiwan, not the least of which being size – Taiwan being small in size as is Saint Lucia, and climate – Saint Lucia being tropical and Taiwan being part tropical and part subtropical.

Our politicians, from both sides of the political divide, often times speak of similarities between the two countries, which many Saint Lucians have come to accept, believing that indeed the two countries are similar in several respects.

The reality is that the two countries are different as chalk and cheese. What the two countries could boast of is that they are islands, in that they are completely surrounded by water. And that’s where all resemblances, if such could be called, end.

For instance, Saint Lucia’s 238 square mile size is not similar to Taiwan’s 13, 976 square mile size. Saint Lucia’s population of 180, 000 cannot compare to Taiwan’s 23.9 million population. And economically, while Taiwan, over the past six or seven decades, has propelled itself into a major economic force on the world stage by its exports of high-tech products like electronics, machinery, computers, semiconductors, microchips, even vehicles, Saint Lucia has lapsed in several areas, like agriculture and manufacturing for instance, that it now leans mostly on tourism as an export.

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It serves Saint Lucia’s interest not to be known as similar to Taiwan but rather to be seen as a country which emulates Taiwan, which through discipline, hard and courageous work has transformed itself from a backwater island, into an economic giant in its region and the world.

The mantra: “If Taiwan can do it we can” should be our lodestar – not to become boring through repeated chanting or expressions, but rather to be a formula of sorts for us to follow to achieve, as Taiwan has achieved, our full potential.

What Taiwan has achieved today is not miraculous, as some of us tend to believe. Hard work and a dedication to the betterment of their country, respect for law and order, a penchant for cleanliness and a desire to get their country out of the slums of poverty are the tenets that have been driving the Taiwanese.

We cannot say the same for Saint Lucia where, despite our stable political climate, incoming governments do not see the need to continue to build on what their predecessors have started. What they do see is a need to break down what has been started.  There is no continuity of development planning for Saint Lucia as incoming governments do whatever pleases them politically with the people’s money.

Emulating Taiwan is what we should be doing, not looking for similarities, because by doing so, we will find ourselves always begging for a fish instead of learning how to fish, being always beggars and becoming adept at it as well, instead of becoming skilled and proficient at fishing hereby enabling us to earn an income.

The Taiwanese are always striving to create a sustainable and resilient Taiwan hence their promotion of agricultural policies that include a farmers’ welfare system, net zero emission policies, policies that would strengthen their food security mechanism, assist their farmers in strengthening agricultural mechanism, promoting smart agriculture and more.

Education is another strongpoint of the Taiwan history, with a literacy rate among its people age 15 and above being 98.5 percent, and that was 10 years ago. The country also boasts one of the finest health systems in the world.

All of this we could copy, but are we doing that? We seem satisfied with dealing in similarities rather than matching or surpassing Taiwan in certain areas.

We reiterate that emulating the citizens of Taiwan is what we in Saint Lucia should be doing as not only would we be resilient as a people, citizen security would be respected and economic progress would be achieved, something we in Saint Lucia have been craving for.

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