Wednesday, May 9, 2007

One on One: Harvey Keh

by Katherine Marie M. Cadeliña

Read about the thoughts of the man behind the controversial e-mail titled "What will make me leave the Philippines: An open letter to every Filipino."
Harvey Keh is the Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government (ASG). He is also the Executive Director of AHON Foundation, an organization that helps promote literacy by building public elementary school libraries.
Harvey was also chosen as one of the 20 Young Leaders of Asia by the Asia Society, an organization based in New York that aims to strengthen relationships and deepen understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States of America. He was also the founder and former Director of Pathways.

What is the importance of the 2007 elections?
I believe that this coming May elections is important for several reasons. First, this is our opportunity to select the kind of leaders that we need for our country right now. An election is always very critical in a democratic country since this is one of the few times where the rich and the poor are actually equal. Regardless of their social status, they just have one vote each. Second, this coming elections can also serve as a referendum to whether or not we approve of the Arroyo administration. We have seen this in last year's US Midterm elections wherein the people voted against most of the Republicans since they did not agree with President Bush's actions in Iraq. Third, this election is very important since this will set the tone on whether or not we will do a charter change. If we elect more pro-administration senators then we can be sure that Malacañang will definitely push for Cha-Cha. Finally, this elections is important since this will set the tone for the Presidential elections of 2010, if the likes of Villar and Legarda do well then we can expect them to make a push for the Presidency by 2010.

Can we count on the May elections to be credible?
Yes, there is always hope that the elections will be credible as long as each and every Filipino remains vigilant and does his own share in ensuring the credibility and honesty of the elections.

What qualities are you looking for in a candidate?
I think a candidate should first be God-fearing and should always put the interest of the people over his or her own interests. Moreover, I sincerely believe that a good leader should be able to lead by example. Many of our current batch of public sector leaders only know how to speak well but they do not put actions to the words that they speak. Finally, a good leader is one who is able share his vision to every Filipino. His vision must be able to inspire Filipinos to work together to achieve our goals as a people.

What is the status of the citizen effort / volunteer groups?
There are currently many citizen efforts or volunteer groups that are being run right now and most of them are working under VforCE or the Volunteers for Clean Elections. VforCE is currently raising one million volunteers all over the Philippines who are working to ensure honest and clean elections.

How can each of us contribute to that effort?
Volunteer and share your time with VforCE. We need all the help that we can get. Remember the saying that the only way for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing.

What role can students play in the upcoming elections?
I think the first role of Ateneo students in the coming elections is to exercise their right to vote. After voting, volunteer for election-monitoring work or the quick count. If you don't have the time to volunteer then maybe you can share your resources to the existing efforts that are being done such as the Bantay Bilang that is being hosted by Ateneo. After the elections, I think Ateneans should continue to work towards nation building by joining organizations such as ANI, Hope or Gawad Kalinga. We can’t just let our government leaders work to make our nation great again. We all need to work together if we want to achieve a better and brighter future for our nation.


jen macanas said...

Harvey Keh. Idealistic, as always.

Mac Siason said...

I agree. The upsurge of volunteer efforts should not be limited to the elections only. There should be sufficient follow-through especially in sectors that most deserve our help.

Ian f. said...

Interesting to read about Harvey Keh's say on the elections. Especially since the sequel to his email on "Reasons to leave the Philippines" has not been THAT widely circulated.

Anonymous said...

"Harvey Keh. Idealistic, as always." Yes. But his idealism transcends mere hopefulness. He makes things happen. And this is how we should think and act. We can't just criticize and have a say on how things should be. We should take concrete actions. Harvey Keh has set a really good example for this. I wonder who he'll be voting, haha. Reading about his "standards" for candidates led me to think... Who actually has those qualities?!