Democracy, infrastructure development not a good mix – Razon

Chrisee Dela Paz

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Democracy, infrastructure development not a good mix – Razon
Enrique Razon Jr says 'countries with the best infrastructure in the world are dictatorships'; Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala says he won't go that route

MANILA, Philippines – Infrastructure development and democratic governance usually do not go well together, said port magnate Enrique Razon Jr, one of the Philippines’ richest men.

“Those that have the most advanced infrastructure are not democratic….Tying democracy to development, I don’t think it really works,” he said during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit in Parañaque City on Monday, November 13.

“The countries with the best infrastructure in the world are dictatorships,” he added.

But Razon, the chairman of International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) and Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, clarified he is not advocating any form of governance over another. (READ: In ASEAN business summit, Razon asks PH to ‘just get things done’)

Razon pointed out that of all countries with democratic governance, only the United States has led the way in infrastructure development, “but just because it is so vast and their resources are plenty.”

Singapore, which has a parliamentary representative democratic republic, remains to be the economy with the best infrastructure when it comes to ASEAN, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness report.

Singapore’s consistent high performance in the WEF report reflects its quality of facilities across all modes of transportation, ranking the highest from quality of roads to availability of electricity supply.

But Cambodia, which takes the form of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, ranks lowest in overall infrastructure in ASEAN.

Asked to explain, Razon said Cambodia has a “massive level of corruption as well.”

For Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are the solution to infrastructure development.

“I’m not gonna go Ricky’s route. But let me just say I believe in public-private partnership. Infrastructure is about ecosystems. You cannot just do one piece in and on itself. All of these cannot be done without the public and private sectors working together,” Zobel de Ayala said during the forum.

I’m a believer in the capitalist system but the capitalist system needs to be adjusted to the needs of the broader community, and I think the two things can be married,” he added. –

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