Archive for the ‘Leadership and Management.’ Category

PM humanises his brand in managing crisis

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020
The clear, fast and transparent move by the prime minister has calmed the public to continue to be careful and adhere to the guidelines during the pandemic.  - Bernama picThe clear, fast and transparent move by the prime minister has calmed the public to continue to be careful and adhere to the guidelines during the pandemic. – Bernama pic

LETTERS: The Covid-19 pandemic is unrelenting in its attack on humanity. In its wake, the virus has left millions infected and heart-wrenching deaths globally.

Studies have shown that reducing uncertainty is key to ensuring that our interventions do work as evident during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in a textbook crisis communication move, was swift, transparent, honest and timely in stemming out panic, anger, fear or mistrust, which become prevalent in the form of inaccurate or fake news.

A solid crisis communications plan should be clear and concise, keeping in mind the varying aptitude of the audience.

Muhyiddin is known for his relatable speeches, usually accompanied by anecdotes of ordinary people, like the now-famous Makcik Kiah and Pak Salleh.

He has never failed to include the common Malaysian greeting “Apa Khabar”. He was quoted in an interview as saying: “My speeches are ordinary, as I always remind myself.

Even if I am the prime minister, when I take part in an interview or explain things, I have to know who my audience is.” Muhyiddin has been savvy in observing trends on social media, including his “ke sana ke sini” line in one of his speeches, which has since become a catchphrase and even immortalised in songs.

Muhyiddin has humanised his brand. At a micro level, crisis communications experts from Precious Communications said the message premise should be clear words of reassurance, especially when there are signs of panicky behaviour, like bulk purchasing of necessities at supermarkets.

Professor Paul A. Argenti, in his article titled “Leadership Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis”, said in fast-moving and uncertain situations, many leaders face questions they may not even have answers to.

There is a need to communicate early and often with key constituencies throughout a crisis. There is also the need for creating a team for centralised communication, especially in large, complex organisations.

But in an emergency or fast-moving situation, you need a crisis-response team. It should include a member of the leadership team, corporate communications, a human resource executive and an expert in the area of concern.

They should meet regularly to monitor the situation closely as it continues to evolve.

It should be the main source of information about the crisis and give regular updates to key constituencies. Always be transparent, explain what you know, what you don’t know and your sources of information. Be succinct.

Long turgid messages written by health professionals or lawyers will not be read or easily understood.

Organisations should post information regularly in a highly visible location. This can be a physical location or virtual email, the company intranet, or Facebook. Communicate no less than every other day and try to provide timely information rather than wait until having all of the answers.

However, communicating regularly with customers requires a different approach than employees given that companies do not have the same access nor frequency with this constituency.

Companies should focus on what is important to the customer. Focus on empathy rather than trying to create selling opportunities.

Companies should rethink advertising and promotion strategies to be more in line with the current zeitgeist. Be transparent in communicating near-term challenges.

Jonathan Bernstein, in his article “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications”, said companies should also be proactive with communities as what happened within organisations affected everyone in the communities around them.


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Civil servants and new normal

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020
The deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector. - NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIMThe deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector. – NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

THE National Institute of Public Administration, commonly known as Intan, is the principal training arm in providing various management, administration and finance courses for civil servants.

Intan began as a modest training centre in Port Dickson in September 1959, and has gone through several phases of development in crafting and delivering relevant courses.

It adopts a holistic approach by constantly striving to cater for the future needs of the public sector. It does this by expanding its strategic collaboration network with various organisations in the public and private sectors, including premier local and foreign institutions of higher learning.

In the international sphere, Intan, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, conducts courses for developing countries under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme. Intan also provides customised courses based on requests from international agencies, which focus on Malaysia’s perspective.

The Covid-19 virus that has choked the whole world since its emergence at the end of 2019 has changed our lifestyle and interaction in a variety of ways. This includes in teaching and learning, conduct of administration, business transactions and application of technologies.

For the nearly three and a half months of the Movement Control Order, the public sector ensured the continuity of the delivery of services to safeguard the public interest.

Intan prepared for this well in advance. It catered for the needs of civil servants even prior to the pandemic. Many courses for lower grade staff and premier grade officers have been well designed and offered for immediate application and knowledge enhancement through the EPSA (Public Sector E-Learning) platform, which was developed since 2007.

It is an online training programme for civil servants that encourages training and continuous self-learning anytime and anywhere. Even the newly recruited Diplomatic and Administrative cadets, who have been studying for a Diploma in Public Administration since January, are continuing their programme seamlessly on the online platform.

The deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector.

It propelled us into a new era of digital-enabled environment and accelerated the extensive application of digitalisation and a host of new technologies. The web-based platforms allow us to avoid physical contact with anyone, yet deliver our services effectively and cost-efficiently.

Intan, through the Cluster of Innovative Management Technology Centre, has prepared numerous contemporary courses and management tools in digital and e-learning context for civil servants.

Even meetings, discussions, workshops and other forms of interactions are conducted using different types of multimedia for their ease. To bolster the effectiveness of technology-based applications, the government is establishing an advanced digital learning centre.

Under the new normal, the public sector was induced to adopt the concept of working from home and apply multimedia tools.

Apart from practising new measures such as social distancing, enhanced personal hygiene and stricter standard operating procedures, Intan is helping civil servants move away from the ‘traditional’ and ‘comfort zone’ to a hybrid approach; a combination of remote and face-to-face learning. It is also preparing the public sector for a new era of other eventualities.

The changing environment means that it can no longer be business as usual in the public sector. For that matter, Intan is persistently looking at numerous angles in grooming civil servants to think out of the box in delivering services more effectively in anticipation of other new norms in the coming time.

The virtual dimension is currently dominating the whole world and the Malaysian public sector has no choice but to embrace the reality. In essence, “digital-based learning is no longer an option but a necessity at all times”.

By Dr Kamarudin Min.

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Asean must take daring steps like EU

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
There were many reasons for Asean to take pride in the bloc’s progress towards sustainable development. -Pic for illustrations purposes only There were many reasons for Asean to take pride in the bloc’s progress towards sustainable development. -Pic for illustrations purposes only

ENTERING 2020, there were many reasons for Asean to take pride in the bloc’s progress towards sustainable development. Extreme poverty has decreased from 138 million people in 2000 to 44 million in 2015.

Life expectancy, which was 63 years in 1984, rose to 70.9 by 2016. Asean’s gross domestic product (GDP) has more than quadrupled since 1999, from US$577 billion in 1999 to US$2.5 trillion in 2016, making it the sixth-largest economy in the world.

However, that progress should not ignore the various problems the region is still facing over inequality, the environment and marginalised communities. The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic threatens to halt the region’s movement towards sustainability and its hopes of achieving long-term development goals.

Thus, the bold Asean project is now facing a significant test on its future relevance. The region has been relatively successful compared with others at handling the spread of the crisis, with Vietnam being a noteworthy success story.

However, even though many of the member states’ economies may be functioning again, there are serious concerns over their reliance on export-oriented growth. Thus, the effects of the pandemic could be particularly long term for the bloc as the world sees the fragility of global supply chains.

Even before the crisis, the United States-China trade war indicated that economic nationalism and protectionism was on the rise and the pandemic will only foster these trends. With this new predicament, Asean countries will need to rely on one another during these difficult times.

Asean’s trade with itself has disappointingly stood at about 25 per cent for almost two decades, which contrasts with the European Union’s 65 per cent trade with itself. Member states have to now show their willingness to do business with one another.

Non-tariff measures are still posing a significant barrier to further trade and it is imperative that they are reduced. The region has to also look into the possibilities of onshoring or even nearshoring as Southeast Asia is becoming known for being a business-friendly hub.

For example, countries such as Singapore and Malaysia were ranked second and 12th, respectively, in Ease of Doing Business in 2020. The crisis should also provide a reminder about other perennial problems in the region, such as its currently weak social protection systems.

Member states only spend about six per cent of GDP on social protection, with only Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei obtaining anything near universal health coverage. Furthermore, the region’s dominant form of social protection is social insurance, such as pensions and health insurance, which mainly benefit salaried employees.

Thus, a large number of those in the informal sector fail to get adequate social protection.

There are also serious environmental worries due to rapid urbanisation leading to increased air and water pollution as well as growing amounts of waste.

Studies predict a 4.8°C rise in mean annual temperature and a mean 70cm rise in sea level by 2100 in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, putting millions at risk. The transboundary haze which is a regular occurrence from July to September is a persistent challenge too.

These challenges that will continue to plague the region have led many to argue that now is the time for member states to come together and create their own Green New Deal (GND) that will help the region recover from the crisis, but also ensure that future development is indeed sustainable.

Such a scheme will be ambitious, but the EU’s introduction of its GND in March should provide an inspiration to Asean. Attempting a major initiative such as a GND would be an indication to the world that Asean has a coherent regional strategy to overcome its long-term issues.

With the problems highlighted, it is clear that now is a defining moment in the bloc’s history. There is undoubtedly an opportunity for member states to bounce back stronger to meet the targets of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community 2025 blueprint.

However, if daring steps are not taken, Asean’s relevance with regard to a coherent regional development strategy may continue to be questioned.

By Nazran Zhafri Johari.

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The Prophet’s leadership qualities

Friday, May 29th, 2020
Medical staff wearing personal protective equipment gathering  for a briefing at Wexham Park Hospital in west London, recently. -AFP picMedical staff wearing personal protective equipment gathering for a briefing at Wexham Park Hospital in west London, recently. -AFP pic

THE impending new society certainly needs new leadership. The pandemic has exposed our weaknesses, forcing us to ask questions on the proper role of institutions, governance and leadership.

The post-Covid 19 realm requires different ways of thinking and organising the world. As we have seen national, political and scientific leaderships collide, necessitating new forms of alignment, in engaging with new realities for humanity.

How novel would leadership be for the coming new humanity? The modern world has become conscious of leadership in the last 60 years.

Early studies, and discourses, all Euro-American, beginning in the 1940s, 50s and 60s were responses to critical junctures in history. Then, it was the 1930s Depression and a “new” world after World War 2. That later saw the creation of Theory X and Theory Y in the context of economic production and the firm.

Subsequently, Peter Drucker came into the picture in the early 1940s. His book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis for the new public management thinking which came to dominate the theme of leadership and public administration in the 1980s and 90s.

This was later followed by the birth of leadership ‘gurus’ in the likes of Warren Bennis, Steven Covey and Barry Posner.

Late last year I was introduced to Muhammad: The Ultimate Leader from Western Business Perspectives (2019) by the author. Dr Daud Batchelor, who had a short stint at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation, International Islamic University (ISTAC-IIUM), told me that he wrote the book for a broad audience, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Batchelor, an Australian, wants to highlight the leadership qualities of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while “living in a time of political, economic and cultural dominance of Western civilisation”.

He deliberately chooses to compare Muhammad’s attributes and actions against leadership qualities cited by Western business writers.

Leadership in new normal times should well return to the qualities of the Prophet, who with his transformational leadership, brought wholesale change to Arab society, subsequently spreading to remote parts of the world and providing guidance to billions of people and diverse human society until today. The new normal requires radical change of leadership.

Human societies of the past and present inherit similar structures and characteristics. Arab society then was riddled with vices, unethical practices, superstitions and beliefs. The expectation of change in Makkah proved futile. The environment changed drastically in Madinah. The City of Madinah was founded as a city of God and His Messenger.

A sublimed spiritualised society. There the Prophet’s life continued to be frugal and austere. He shunned the pomp and glitter of the world even when he was the absolute ruler of the whole of Arabia from the boundaries of Syria in the north, to the southern Arabian states of Bahrain, Hadhramaut and Yemen.

The author of Muhammad: The Ultimate Leader assesses the Prophet’s leadership based on key traits identified by Western writers.

For example, the authors of the book Passion for Excellence, Tom Peter and Nancy Austin, believed that “Leadership is a sacrifice — it is self-denial — it is love, it is fearlessness, and it is humility, and it is in the perfectly disciplined will”. They never thought that the definition would fit the character of the Prophet like a glove.

Other Western writers such as Stephen Covey (1991) identified such essentials as “Principle-Centred Leadership”; Overton (2002), Palmisano (2008) and Brown (2011), “Deep Concern for Followers”; Kouzes and Posner (2008), Palmisano (2008), Adair (2010) and Brown (2011), “Leadership by Example”; and Redekop (2011), “Stewardship of the Environment”.

The Prophet had clearly no interest in seeking power or riches of the world for himself, and so was entirely incorruptible and unsusceptible to any inducements to deviate him or compromise his mission. Muhammad was the ultimate servant leader.

Although not often cited among leadership qualities in the West, Robert Hogan identified humility as a mark of an effective leadership.

Muhammad was given the choice between becoming a king-prophet (like David and Solomon), or a slave prophet. He chose to be a slave-prophet serving God and humanity.

Clearly new normal futures had been brought by man’s recklessness on himself, his notions of society, status and social values, wealth production, technological prowess and excesses on nature. He has disrupted the natural order. The post-Covid times will see nature mitigating itself.

Clearly the Prophet structures trust (amanah) as a sacred covenant. The leader must be competent to protect, manage and utilise earth’s resources wisely. At all levels of the social order, the leader must ensure not to upset the natural balance.

Hence, the future of the world is dependent on how leaders need to change their worldviews, mindsets, beliefs, skills, and lifestyle models, if they are to meet the test of guardianship. Batchelor cited a favoured guru in the West, Jordan Peterson, who proclaimed that the nature of the world is “suffering” and “negotiating chaos”.

And we have seen (and many would also experience) in the last few months the image of pain and chaos. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life resonates with the leadership of the Prophet.

The new society, with new traditions, must display “authentic leadership”, true to themselves, and grounded on moral foundations and spirituality. Muhammad: The Ultimate Leader is a timely reminder in these trying times.

By A. Murad Merican.

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A quiet 73rd birthday in the office for PM Muhyiddin

Friday, May 15th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin turns 73 today.

“We presented him with a big birthday card from the Prime Minister’s Office staff and birthday wishes, ” said one of his aides.

“It’s a full working day for him and his programme is full today. No other celebrations that we know of,” added the aide.

Although it seems like a quiet birthday for Muhyiddin, checks on his Facebook page showed more than a thousand people wishing him Happy Birthday and a long life.

Many referred to him as “Abah (father)”, a Malay term of endearment, as they showered him with birthday wishes and hoped that he would enjoy good health.

“Happy birthday, Abah, may you have a long life and given good health to continue to lead the country. Abah is the best leader for us,” posted Nan Faznan, while Srikandi Humaira wrote, “Happy birthday Abah, a leader with the people at heart, may you be given long life and good health”.

“Happy birthday Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. May God protect and bless Tan Sri. We need to take note and assist our youths who are troubled and not productive,” said James Ng Ming Hwee, referring to the National Youth Day which falls today (May 15).

Some also said that they were excited sharing the same birthday as the Prime Minister, while many others shared gifs and their own posters of Muhyiddin in the comments section.


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Honing leadership skills

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

(Back row, from left): Puviarasu a/l Setra Rasu, Wong Zi Hao and Kavita Senaratna. (Front row, from left): Mun Chun Kit and Lue Wan Min.

IT is an age-old belief that commitment and discipline entail success. More often than not, most successful individuals have these attributes.

While Nilai University offers several types of scholarships for students who commit and strive to excel academically, the Department of Student Affairs also started a scholars club – a common ground for all scholars to be groomed as future leaders in their respective communities.

The think-tank of Scholars Club

Although from different backgrounds, Wong Zi Hao, Puviarasu Setra Rasu and Kavita Senaratna are all recipients of Nilai University scholarship, and they are committee members of the Scholars Club.

Currently, the trio are pursuing different programmes – Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering and Bachelor of Science (Hon) in Biotechnology.

Wong, a Year Two Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering student, is the current president of the Scholars Club. As he commits to doing his bit for the community here, he has participated in several events organised by the university. Being the new president, he plans to organise more activities with his committee members.

“As a scholar, I have the privilege to tutor my course mates, so I suggested we could study together. When they pass or do well academically, I feel happy to have contributed and helped them achieve their desired grades. I must admit though, it helps me focus on my studies too, ” shared Wong.

Puviarasu, a sophomore student in Bachelor of Science (Hon) in Biotechnology, has taken up the role of orientation counsellor. As he progressed from foundation to degree, the role he undertook expanded to eventually becoming a team lead. This taught him leadership, time management and sharpened his communication skills.

Also, he held roles such as the security and safety head for the 2018 FunRun.

Kavita, from Sri Lanka, is also pursuing her Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering and holds the position of project manager. She helps coordinate between scholars and other event organisers in organising main events. Her capacity allows her to explore and recognise her ability in managing expectations between her fellow scholars and event organisers.

“I stumbled upon Nilai University’s Aircraft Engineering programmes on the Kingston University website as Nilai University offers a top-up programme with Kingston University, ” said Kavita.

More scholars

Another scholarship recipient is Chan Jia Zian, also pursuing the Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. At an Education Fair in Kuala Lumpur, he made a beeline to Nilai University’s booth.

“The Diploma of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering offered by Nilai University is affordable. Furthermore, the programme incorporates the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 66 Category B1 and B2 syllabi in its programmes, ” explained Chan.

“Also, at Nilai University, I took up roles to organise events. I was exposed to handling a large crowd and had to think on my feet about the flow of communication to deliver some instructions precisely. These opportunities served as a platform for me to discover my unique communication style.”

Abi Roshinee Kamalan received the High Achievers’ Scholarship (HAS) while pursuing the Foundation in Science and with her outstanding academic achievement.

Nilai University offered her the same scholarship to pursue her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Accounting and Finance, which she selected as this qualification would lead to a stable career.

Tan Min Shen, on the other hand, received the Merit Scholarship. He has always had a curious mind. In his late teens, he completed a project on the Bernoulli’s Principle, which intensified his interest in aeroplanes.

From front: Abi Roshinee Kamalan, Chan Jia Zian and Tan Min Shen

From front: Abi Roshinee Kamalan, Chan Jia Zian and Tan Min Shen

Six types of scholarships

The list of scholars goes on, and each gifted student will have an equal footing to achieve his dreams. The HAS and Merit Scholarships are awarded to students who have scored well in their SPM, STPM, UEC and other relevant tertiary exams.

1) High Achievers’ Scholarship (HAS)

Under HAS, local Malaysian students with outstanding results of 9As in SPM or 3As in STPM or other equivalently excellent results in UEC, IGSE/O-Level, A-Levels, SAM/HSC/AUSMAT, ICPU and IB will be eligible for up to 100% waiver in tuition fees. HAS is available for all foundation and degree programmes, but students should maintain their results (CGPA ≥3.50) and attendance (≥75% for all programmes except the Nursing programme which requires an attendance of ≥ 90%) to be eligible for continuing the scholarship next semester.

2) Merit Scholarship

The Merit Scholarship is based solely on academic results. Students who have scored more than 4As in their SPM, from ‘2Bs and one A’ in their A-Levels, a minimum CGPA of 3.00 in their STPM and 4As in UEC will receive a partial tuition fee waiver of 20% or more for the foundation, diploma and degree programmes at Nilai University. To continue receiving this scholarship, scholars should maintain a CGPA of more than 2.75% and an attendance of more than 75% (Other programmes) or 90% (Nursing programme) every semester.

Another four types of scholarships are awarded to students who exhibit leadership skills or are gifted athletes:

-Sports Focus Centre – Fencing Award

-Extra-Curriculum and Sports Excellence Award (ECSEA)

-Enrichment for Life Award (EFL)

-Education for All (EFA)

The quantum of tuition fee waivers and terms varies according to the scholarship offered. Nilai University has dedicated all weekends in March for students and parents who are keen to consult the educational counsellors on the requirements and application process for these scholarships.

Nilai University – Higher education within means

Nilai University offers recognised programmes with five levels of qualification, kicking off with a foundation in business and science, subsequently progressing to a diploma, degree, masters and the highest achievement–a doctorate. The faculties offer specialised programmes in various fields of study.

Some of its specialised programmes in biotech and hospitality management incorporate business elements as core courses. Students will gain a sound understanding of the competitive business environment in the specialised fields of biotech and hospitality management, respectively.

More so, Nilai University has carved a name for itself within the aviation industry. The academic pathway for its established programme in aircraft maintenance engineering allows students to complete the Advanced Diploma in Aircraft Engineering Technology with a top-up degree, Bachelor Engineering (Hons) Aircraft Engineering from Kingston University, in the United Kingdom, within three and a half years.

Nilai University – Green campus is just 15 minutes’ drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Besides being easily accessible and well connected, the 1.05 ha (105-acre) campus is surrounded by pristine nature.

“The campus is peaceful and there are a lot of amenities nearby, such as a mini theatre, sports complex and retail mall. Furthermore, my course lecturers are approachable, ” said Abi.

M’sia needs strong leadership badly

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
Malaysian leadership has lost focus for many years now but our political leaders have chosen to ignore it. The result? The 2020 “Malaysian dream” for 1st world status has been shattered and lost in the wilderness. It is now 2030 but we are no better off than 5 or 10 years ago.

Unless political leaders can wake up from the dangers of “race and religion”, our country will stagnate in middle income or possibly worse, regress back into 3rd world like some African countries. Even some African countries are awake and are beginning to roar with Chinese assistance. The Asian Tigers [Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea] have left us far behind in their dusts. They are now much better off than us in income, standard of living and almost every economic and social endeavours. Vietnam, the late comer kid, will overtake us like Ferrari vs Proton Saga soon.

Weak leadership is causing Malaysia’s lack of economic progress.

Becoming an Asian Tiger was our much-heralded ambition, but our leaders have lost direction and will power.

This Vision 2020 has been blinded by ineffectual “political cataract” in both eyes. How about Government Transformation Programme? This was born dead.

Though GTP was an excellent concept and would have elevated Malaysia into 1st world status, weak, aimless and amoral leadership was subsumed by greed/corruption. Is there hope for New Malaysia and Shared Prosperity 2030? Like the old saying, “once bitten twice shy”, we are into the 3rdh time of being bitten, not twice as New Malaysia is fading fast. Shared Prosperity 2030 would not become our 4th time being bitten. Things just cannot improve in Malaysia. Political leaders playing “race and political” game, are preventing Malaysia from achieving 1st world economic progress and destroying our dream of better lives.

Weak leadership and our PETRO$$$$$?

What have these countries in common—-Norway, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait? Excellent Management of Petrowealth. Norway tops the world’s best managed sovereign wealth from oil revenue. Why does midget Brunei have a larger sovereign fund and 2 2 times larger GDP per capita than Malaysia? Why Malaysia is below par with Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, all of which have no petro$$$, little or no natural resources? Why the citizens of these countries can enjoy much better standard living than Malaysians? The answer is simple—Their citizens are blessed with superior economic leadership.

From day 1 when Malaysia has discovered oil till now—-our revenue/profit from oil must have been in the trillions. When oil prices were sky high, Petronas’ annual profits were more than RM100 billion. Where are all these petro$$$ windfalls? What has happened to them? Why leaders of previous BN and PH governments are reluctant and/or have no courage to investigate how Petro$$$ have been used.

Sabah has produced oil and gas for more than 30 years. Why is Sabah still one of the worst-off states? Why are so many Sabahans still living below poverty line? Why so many Sabahans have migrated to KL, Singapore and Johore to seek jobs and better salary? All these are manifestations of poor, very poor economic leadership.

Weak leadership and chance of better future economic performance?

History is a great teacher. Projecting into the future, I have grave doubt that Malaysia’s economic performance will experience dramatic improvement or can catch up with our erstwhile Asian Tiger cousins. Tun M has said Malaysia can be an Asia Tiger again. Likely we shall remain a kitten with stunted growth, unable to realise our full potentials.

Weak leadership in PH government.

The pre GE14 PH coalition that the voters have elected into government has morphed into a different animal. Most glaringly, it has forgotten that Malaysians have given support PH on a non-racial/religious platform. Its platform was on good governance, better economic management, inclusive policies and stronger economic performance. Unfortunately, it has fallen head over heels into the opposition’s race/religion trap. To brush up its race/religion credentials, the PH government has tumbled below par on being unable to produce meaningful economic policies that can put Malaysia on to the path of achieving Asian Tiger status.

Many PH ministers lack quality leadership as is obvious from the lack of definitive models/policies at the respective ministries, their embarrassing U turns announcements, neither here nor there “may-be” or “may consider” statements without follow proper ups. Quite amateurish!

Unable to appoint a new minister of education is very worrying. It cannot make sense for 94 year Tun M to take on the huge education ministry without sacrificing his focus on bigger national issues.

Weak leadership and Malaysia’s present political ambience.

Because of its unfocused leadership the PH government has been found wanting in its ability to change the attitude of bumiputras from economic/financial dependency to self-independency. It lacks political courage to convert the vast majority of bumiputra to face economic reality of competitiveness, hard work and necessity of saving.

Instead, it has embarked on an easy way out by continuing the “bantuan” policy of the previous government, albeit under different slogans. Its implicit condone of race supremacy, demand for dignity, birth rights to economic opportunities and not having to compete or work for it will continue to make Malaysia an economic laggard. So long as it refuses to face the fact that no country can achieve economic greatness without recognising basic economic realities, Malaysia will remain an economic kitten—-never an Asian Tiger.

The PH government has exhibited little political leadership and courage to change the present toxic political ambience. It has become a follower to opposition’s brand of race/religion politics. Sad, very sad indeed.

Weak leadership and fondness of shifting blame.

Strong, trustworthy leadership can lead the people to achieve strong economic performance by appropriate motivation, supported by a strong economic direction, fair policies and equitable distribution of wealth. Malaysian leaders have failed badly in this respect due to corruption, self-interest, cronyism and ineffective implementation. The leaders have no moral high ground to admit their failures. To shield themselves from political back lash from their own supporters, they have to use the bogeymen of blames on others to justify their own leadership failures. And encourage them to demand for more privileges under the pretext of enabling to catch up.

Weak leadership and quality of education.

It is in education that the worst type of weak leadership can be seen in the previous and present government. [a] Failure to recognize meritocracy has produced a whole bunch of mediocratic academics who can only churn out poorly qualitied graduates and a very large pool of unemployable and unemployed graduates.

Then put the blame on employers for refusing to employ them. [b] Fondness for quantity and failure to produce quality has produced square peg graduates for round holes in the economy. UPM [University Putra Malaysia] was very proud to produce at one time 632 PHd graduates which must be the largest in the world and which has attracted nothing but ridicules. UPM has become a joke. Sad to say, UPM is deluding in pride of this laughable PHd numbers!

Without competition and meritocracy, the Malaysian education system can never produce world class innovation.

Malaysia’s present education model will never equip Malaysians to achieve economic greatness.

The PH government has an unique opportunity to overhaul the poor education system but has failed to do so up to now. It cannot even implement teaching of maths and science in English which is T M’s favourite objective.

Malaysia in urgent need of fresh, strong leadership. It is quite easy to see weak leadership that has enveloped Malaysia inside a jumbled up, aimless economic model. Too many Malaysians, especially those wanting more privileges and bantuan, are being trapped and unable to escape.

All the talks of becoming Asian Tiger again, race supremacy and demands for economic dignity are just hot air. There must be strong leaders who can lead Malaysians to do away with all these economic ills and superfluous stuffs. They must roll up their sleeves, go for hard work and in education, learn the difficult stuff like maths, science, engineering and technology, adopt strong values of honesty, self-discipline, self-reflections and acceptance of all races/religions.

Let me reiterate—-the PH government is a not a bad government. All that it needs to do is—-

[a] Put its act together.

[b] Select ministers with genuine capabilities. PH’s good talents are being ignored.

[c] PH component parties must settle down and stop trying to out manoeuvre each other.

[d] Be leaders of all Malaysians.

[e] Small boy should not pick fights with giants like India and China—-bound to get the nose bloody.

[f] Most importantly, fulfil your GE14 promises if you want to win GE15.

By: Datuk John Lo

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Of Malaysia’s leaders past, present and future

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

SOCIETIES require leaders. Leaders lead in many ways, some good and some bad.

Pope Francis leads by example, and by doing so, he has restored the faith of the faithful.

Hitler led with lies and hate – it almost destroyed the world.

Ronald Reagan led with robust yet straightforward oratory. In tragedy and triumph, he restored America’s pre-eminence.

Boris Johnson leads by assiduously cultivating a bumbling everyday personality that masks a ruthless political instinct and ambition. He just won his party a resounding majority in the United Kingdom’s Parliament.

It has been a tough 18 months for Malaysians.

After a historic change of government in May 2018, the promised rupture with the past and renewal has been absent.

It is more of the same – politicking, race-baiting, broken promises and failing leaders.

The stratospheric promises made by the current government to overthrow the previous one is not helping it, and there is a general lack of direction and internecine intra-party wars confronting the ruling coalition.

Malaysians, for better or worse, are used to stability. We are not accustomed to the messiness that comes with more democracy, but I guess we have to get used to it as it is the new normal.

Now back to our leaders.

Our past leader, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, is defending himself against allegations that he ordered the murder of Mongolian national, Altantuya.

Despite the trial of the convicted killers of Altantuya running the entire gamut of our legal system, one of the sentenced men managed to swear a statutory declaration while on death row (a rare feat indeed), making these explosive claims.

Najib has seized the initiative by swearing in a mosque that he had nothing to do with the murder.

Some have argued that “dead men” tell no lies, but in Malaysia, that may not always be the case especially with the institutionalised system of quid-pro-quo.

Tun Dr Mahathir had a very tough couple of weeks.

As our present leader finds himself in the middle of a prestige battle with Saudi Arabia as the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Summit fell flat after the King of Saudi Arabia complained that the KL Summit seeks to usurp the role of the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan (a self-confessed superfan of Dr Mahathir) cancelled his RSVP to the KL Summit, clearly at the behest of Saudi Arabia as it is no secret that Pakistan is a modern-day vassal state to Saudi Arabia and depends tremendously on Saudi good will.

This is a far cry from the height the respect and admiration Dr Nahathir enjoyed in the past as was last seen at the last Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in 2003.

A redemption of sorts for Dr Mahathir may come with the APEC Summit in 2020 that will be hosted by Malaysia.

But given his habit of offending large powers, like remarking that the impeachment of President Donald Trump is probably justified and wading into India’s internal affairs by commenting on its controversial citizenship law, APEC 2020 may see thin attendance.

Our future leader also finds himself in another imbroglio.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confronts a third allegation of sexual impropriety. A former aide has accused Anwar, in vivid detail, of sexual harassment and assault.

I, for one, do not believe this fantasy. I mean enough is enough. After all that has happened these 20 years, I would think that Anwar’s detractors would have improvised their playbook. I hope the police conclude their investigations fast and properly exonerate Anwar.

There is no question of political interference like in the past because this time Anwar’s party have leaders the government and there should be no “fix” as it was alleged previously.

Further, the ghost of APEC 1998 took place not long Anwar was sacked and arrested. Now, the grapevine believes that Anwar will only assume the mantle of leadership after APEC.

Not to forget, Anwar’s sacking in 1998 was preceded by the publication of a salacious book called “50 reasons why Anwar cannot be PM”, and now as the nation expects a transition of power from Dr Mahathir to Anwar, there are the Yusoff Rawther allegations of sexual misconduct.

As I have said, the Anwar haters need a new script.

Compounding Anwar’s problems, his deputy and a few other leaders have “gone rogue.”

Upset by Anwar’s use of a Malay fable on loyalty during his opening address at the PKR Congress recently, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his supporters bolted from the Congress. Later, they had a show of force, at a separate venue, with one of the highlights being who went to jail first in 1998 while forgetting that history may repeat itself.

As these political parlour games engulf Pakatan Harapan, many are looking to DAP to provide some stability. But due to the widespread perception that it holds the levers of powers and exude undue influence over the government, they have chosen to stay silent.

So, what do we make of our leaders’ past, present and future?

It is testimony to the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

However, it is a historic opportunity for Malaysians to move beyond these leaders and look to the future. We must not hero-worship our leaders, and neither should we be overly forgiving and indulge their failings. This is a mistake I once made, which I now sorely regret.

We must be critical and hold them accountable – at all times.

We need a leader who can provide an injection of hope, oratory, vision and gravitas required to restore our country. Malaysia needs someone who can help her move on from the past and chart a new course – one that is progressive, gentle, just and equitable.

As this is my last column for 2019, thank you for all the comments I have received, most of them constructive. I will do my best to write it as I see it.

By Ivanpal Singh Grewal.

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‘Students must have excellent leadership skills’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Students, especially those given the responsibility as a Children Representative Council (MPKK), must have excellent leadership skills.

Health and People’s Wellbeing Assistant Minister Norazlinah Arif said among the attributes that the students must have in order to become great leaders is an ability to polish their strength and improve from weaknesses.

“Students must also be strong-hearted when it comes to listening to negative feedbacks. Never be too emotional when you are criticised,” she said during the closing ceremony of the Advocacy and Self-Improvement programme held at Ming Garden Hotel yesterday.

She also said that the students must gain as much knowledge as possible and not just stay at where they are the most comfortable.

“Students must also take their responsibility very seriously because they must bear the consequences to their actions.

“These must be instilled within yourselves because you are the one that decides what’s best for you,” she asserted.

Some 56 students from 28 districts in Sabah have been elected as the representative councils for the session of 2019-2021 to assist the welfare department to identify issues involving children in their districts.

According to Ponniya Irham from the Sabah Social Welfare Department said that the MPKKs educate the children on their rights that are protected under the government.

“They help identify problems faced by the children because most of the time, these children prefer to talk to someone who is the same age as they are,” she added.


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Climate leadership, clean growth crucial for survival

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Malaysia is embarking on an ambitious renewable energy generation target — to grow the share to 20 per cent by 2025. An example is the net energy metering programme, to catalyse and scale up renewable energy growth. – Reuters

THIS month the United Kingdom Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency. Many countries are following the UK’s lead.

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe, and that a million species are at threat of extinction due to human activity. We are eroding our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide and need to make rapid, transformational change. Young people around the globe are rightly calling on governments to do more — act now to prevent disaster later.

That’s why I’ve come to Kuala Lumpur this week. I want to build a strong partnership between the UK and Malaysia on tackling climate change. We have a responsibility to allow our children to live in a world not irreversibly damaged by human activity. All countries must work together to make our economies cleaner and greener — now and for future generations.

I know that people in Malaysia have voiced out their concern over the impact of climate change to which they are particularly vulnerable. A two degree temperature rise — likely if we do not scale back carbon emissions urgently — would increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weathers in Malaysia, which include major flash floods in cities. If the high emission scenario continues, and without large investments in adaptation, an annual average of 234,500 Malaysians are projected to be affected by flooding due to a rise in sea levels between 2070 and 2100.

What can we do? A large part of the answer is to reduce carbon emissions by investing rapidly in green growth. Clean and sustainable energy, transport, agriculture and industry means cheaper energy, more and better jobs, cleaner air, better health and nutrition, more liveable towns and cities and an enriched natural environment. The UK, as a climate leader, has reduced emissions by 43 per cent since 1990, while growing the British economy by two thirds. We are determined to speed this process up further — the UK’s independent Climate Change Commission recommended this month that the UK legislate now to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which would make us the first major economy to pass laws to end our contribution to global warming entirely.

All our unabated coal-fired power stations will close by 2025, and just last week the UK announced that it had gone for over a week without using any coal to generate power. That’s a good feeling. Yet only seven years ago, coal produced 40 per cent of the UK’s power. With an ambitious clean growth strategy and strong investment in and commitment to renewables, transformational change is possible and economically fruitful. It is win-win for the climate and for the economy.

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that renewable energy will be cheaper than unsubsidised fossil fuels everywhere in the world by 2020. Offshore wind in the UK (40 per cent of the world’s total) is already cheaper than coal, nuclear power and gas. India is investing heavily in solar and wind — from 50 gigawatts to 225 gigawatts in the next four years. South Africa and Chile have successfully pivoted away from coal.

I know that Malaysia is embarking on an ambitious renewable energy (RE) generation target — to grow the share to 20 per cent by 2025. In addition, the new government is also ramping up energy efficiency in public sector buildings, undertaking a holistic electricity market reform; and tabling a new bill in Parliament on Energy Efficiency and Conservation by this year.

Malaysia is increasingly recognising its own huge potential for renewables, particularly solar (much better than the UK), biogas and biomass, though its renewable energy targets which would help meet its 4.8 per cent annual electricity demand growth, provide economic opportunities and growth.

Growing the RE portfolio in the energy mix would help Malaysia make that transition of unlocking the country into a negative long term trend for emissions,  financial instability through stranded fossil fuel assets, and declining health (coal-fired power contributes to around eight million premature deaths globally each year, primarily in Asia).

During my visit to Malaysia, I will be discussing how the UK’s expertise and support can encourage Malaysia’s low carbon transition through our various joint partnership programmes. I am keen to offer the UK’s expertise in legislation and policy making, institutional framework set-ups, mitigation measures, addressing climate risk, our global leadership on renewable energy generation, low emission/electric vehicle technology and as a global centre for green finance (City of London). And our Prosperity Fund Asean Low Carbon Energy Programme will invest in growing Malaysia’s capacity to access the green finance needed for transformational change.

At the international level, I hope the UK and Malaysia can collaborate towards ambitious UN climate talks in Chile this year and particularly in 2020, when I am lobbying for Britain to host the talks. Such a partnership could help energise this region, and the world to address the scale and urgency of the climate challenge we face. We must invest in climate leadership and clean growth — for the sake of our children and future generations.

By Nick Bridge.

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