Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Malaysians, PLEASE dont be stupid lah !

Contrary to what some of our politicians (on both sides) want us to believe, our key challenge in 2010 and this decade is not about who runs the country but it is about economics.

It is not about who gets more or whether Ketuanan Melayu is a myth or reality but it’s about the quality and quantum of our people’s productivity and how we manage our economy.

It is not about the ratio of faithfuls to the number of mosques, churches and temples that we have.

It is not about whom’s religious structure is taller or more grandeur than the other.

It has not much to do with the number of times we pray each day or how hard we try to show that our religion is better than another’s religion.

It is not about who to blame for past mistakes or about catching those who have cheated us in the past.

It is not about proving who is smarter, better or cleverer.

It is not about Najib or Anwar, BN or PR.

It is not about politics.


It is about paying attention to and concentrating on what is important, what are the few things we need to do right to give maximum impact to the livelihood of the poor, the middle income and the rich (yes they are all important, they are all humans and they are all Malaysians).

It is about how hard we are willing to push our hearts, minds and souls at creating value added work and innovation that create wealth and prosperity – together.

It is about consolidating our efforts – not about poking every idea from a partisan point of view. Why? just to show that you are smarter?

It is about putting your overexpanded ego aside and WORKING WITH each other’s ideas.

It is about you and I spending more time and effort making things happen instead of reacting, debating and arguing about non-productive and academic issues like “Can a Non- Malay be a PM?”, “Is Malaysia a secular or Islamic country?”,” Who is more racist UMNO, DAP or Utusan Malaysia?”, “Did DAP chicken out to PAS?”, “Did PAS sold its soul to DAP?”, “Is MCA kowtowing to UMNO?”, “What do you think about Ridhuan Tee’s article?”,etc.

None of these issues will have a direct impact to the amount and quality of food we put on the table. They are just unproductive distraction taking and sapping away our best minds and limited resources and energy from doing what we should – make things happen at the economic front.

We are trapped in the middle – our labor is no longer cheap and we have not move up the value chain to higher-levels of economic activities – our livelihood is at a great risk.

When the economy is bad, we quarrel about racial equality, Ketuanan Melayu, social contract, and the likes. When the economy is good, we are happy with our shopping sprees, holidays, OGAWA massage chairs and be merry with each other.

We are being silly. During bad times we should put aside all these problems and work towards survival.

We should argue, when times are good not when we have an economic tsunami coming our way. So keep a note or park all these issues that is pulling us apart somewhere safe, bring them back when our economy is growing at 8% or more.

Otherwise, we all will end up with lots of rights but no rice.

So let me repeat myself …

Contrary to what some of our politicians (on both sides) want us to believe, our key challenge in 2010 and this decade is not about who runs the country but it is about economics.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Change or be Obsolete!

If politics continue to take centre stage, no one will be willing to take the bitter pill and introduce painful changes to make good the economy. We need to focus on the economy, not politics. The government, the opposition and civil society must come together and agree on concrete change efforts or we will fail miserably.

Its about the economy, not which party wins the next election.


An introspective Malaysia ponders its economic future
Taken from Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — As the year draws to a close, there is a rare mood of introspection in Malaysia over its economic future.

The debate was sparked by senior officials, who highlighted in unusually blunt terms the country’s economic stagnation.

Leaders as diverse as Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, former minister-in-charge of macro-economic development Effendi Norwawi and respected economists have aired highly critical views.

What’s more surprising is the prominence local newspapers have given to these unvarnished views. To Malaysia-watchers who track these things, the change in tone has been quite remarkable.

The government rarely highlights downbeat economic news.

Even as the world went into a tailspin last year, it put on a brave front. The ‘Malaysia
Boleh’ (Malaysian Can) spirit of the boom years of the 1990s seemed hard to shake off.
The current debate was stirred by the government’s promise to create a “new economic model” to haul Malaysia out of the middle-income league in which it has been stuck for 15 years.
Prime Minister Najib Razak last week said the model would be disclosed by February next year, two months later than the original deadline.

It is intended to raise Malaysia to a high-income economy with a per capita income of at least US$15,000 (RM51,450). Malaysia is now classified as an upper middle-income economy with a per capita income of US$7,000.

Very little is known about this new model as the government has spoken about it only in vague terms so far. But the little that has emerged suggests that the government agrees with the expert views now being aired.

Economic experts say Malaysia’s rapid growth in the 1990s will not return without intensive reforms, for the growth was not driven by productivity gains, which would have made it sustainable.

Instead, it was driven by cheap foreign labour, with little effort made to move the country up the value chain to higher-level economic activities.
Malaysia lagged as the world raced ahead, and there is now fear that it may not be able to pull itself together.

Here is a sample of recent views:

Professor Mohamed Ariff, executive director of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research: “Ironically, the long-term vision was undermined by a short-sighted growth strategy, which was pursued single-mindedly with a high premium on short-term growth at the expense of long-run goals. Malaysia had inadvertently shot itself in the foot.”

Former Cabinet minister Effendi Norwawi: “Our economic survival and competitiveness are at risk. We must try new ways to get new results and overcome the haunting problems of implementation with the same old people, systems and processes.”

Oxford-educated Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin: “We spent the last two decades of the last century piggybacking on growth in the region, benefiting from massive investments especially from Japan and created local conglomerates via privatisation. It created a solid base for us to take our economy to the next level, up the value chain and all that jazz. Except we didn’t.”

Recently-released economic data paints a bleak picture.

A paper published by the Economic Planning Unit shows a 26 per cent gap between Malaysia’s current national wealth and the set target. By next year, Malaysia should
have a gross domestic product of RM694 billion, but it is estimated to come in at around RM514 billion.

Private sector participation has fallen to below 10 per cent of GDP, compared with 30 per cent before the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

The good news about such government-led pessimism is that it usually heralds the rollout of painful reforms. That is a time-tested way of preparing the ground, and was artfully utilised before fuel subsidies were slashed.

But the bad news, as Effendi noted, is that Malaysia has had too many “new ideas” that have never gone the distance.

“Our history is littered with glaring examples where great ideas just didn’t take off from the drawing board,” he said.

A major problem is the political risk that comes with economic reforms.
Rebuilding an economy based on competition, merit, transparency and productivity will mean cutting some of the cosy links between politics and the economy.

Malaysia’s economy is very closely tied to the government and politics. Reforms will, thus, be seen as a zero-sum game to some.

As Khairy noted in an article for the Edge weekly: “...reactionary voices dominate the debate with emotional blackmail and heightened racial rhetoric.

“Yet, this is the single most important transformation that needs to take place —for the Establishment, in its entirety, to embrace a new world view of competition, merit, transparency and diligence.”

So far, Datuk Seri Najib has been cautious. He has taken a big risk in abolishing quotas for Malay ownership of public-listed companies so as to encourage private firms to grow and to woo foreign investment. But transparency, including the lack of open tenders, is still lacking in vast sectors of the economy.

Many ideas have been floated about Malaysia’s comparative advantages — notably in oil and gas, and agriculture — and on what the new economy should focus.

We’ll have to wait till February for the details, but the government could seize on the country’s rare introspective mood to get its message across now. — The Straits Times

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ISA and the Rakyat’s opinion – What is to be done?

The better way to get feedback from the rakyat is to

  1. Have a referendum, or,
  2. Commission a thorough market research using professional research agencies – with adequate sample size and concrete research methodologies to truly represent all the various segments of the Malaysian population.
The first option is straightforward.

I am for the second option - it is more cost effective and harder to manipulate.

To follow the second option, we will need to first organize a quantitative research and get a wide (breadth) picture of the rakyat’s opinion and stand on the issue. This usually will cost about RM 140K - RM160K – if we were to use a reputable research agency.

Once we have the quantitative results, it is advisable to look for depth via a qualitative research, generally in the form of Focus Group Interview to explore, help explain and find out the motivation behind the rakyat’s attitude towards the issue. It can tell us why they feel the way they do, capture if their decision is based on hearsay, real understanding or political biasness. This would cost roughly between RM 60K to RM 80K – (same as the above)

I don’t have RM200+K to spare but if any of you know someone who is serious about finding out the TRUTH (e.g. not just wanting to make lots of noise for political gains) and have loads of money, please contact me.

I can assist (at no cost - the RM200+K is for the research agencies) to work with the research agencies making sure,

  1. The research brief is written in a neutral manner, communicate all the relevant information in order to get actual feedback from the rakyat,
  2. Define the research objectives clearly,
  3. Develop the research plan for collecting information methodologically,
  4. The collection and analyzing of data is done properly, minimizing errors especially during fieldwork and focus groups,
  5. Interpretation of the research will not sway towards either side and the final report is easily digested by the average reader.

Any takers?

Related articles –

and read my Xmas blogpost below stressing on SWOT and clear thinking :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have A Meaningful Xmas!!! ( In the Star Today)

Greetings, from this Xmas onwards, our ads will carry the sub-headline " What Is to Be Done" suggesting action ideas for we brother and sister Malaysians. I hope you will join us in taking doable action in making this country a better place : )

Have A Meaningful Christmas

What is to be done?
Time for a SWOT

Whether it is a decision about your job or home life, or picking a leader, Malaysians need to choose rationally; think of good and bad, strengths and weaknesses; make informed decisions based on clear considerations, not emotions. Look at both sides, fight against your own biases.

When considering a job related issue, review your life’s objective, weigh the positives and negatives and make decisions based on how the new situation fit your goal.

When in that polling booth, ask yourself which candidate delivers peace and prosperity. Put emotions aside, debunk party politics; that warm body on that ballot; will he or she bring mostly good?

Do a SWOT analysis and evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

For work and home SWOT, be clear on what your goals are, think carefully and clearly about the features and qualities, strengths and weaknesses that contribute to achieving your objective. Consider what external opportunities help to realize and what threats exist for your goals.

When voting a leader, be clear on what you want for our nation; whether it is first rate education for your children, safety in the streets, unity in diversity, and above all, peace and prosperity; look at each candidate and weigh his or her strengths against your objectives for the nation. And pick your leader from this analysis, ignore everything else.

At zubedy our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe at the heart all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their brother and sister Malaysians simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind. Malaysia is where we are today because for the most part, we Malaysians make rational decisions. Let’s resolve to reinforce our practice of clear thinking.

let us add value

Anas Zubedy

Pic above - Albert S Humphrey (1926 - 2005) who is credited for creating the SWOT Analysis

Friday, December 18, 2009

1 Malaysia, ethnicity and the economy — Chandra Muzaffar

DEC 17 — How ethnic interests are addressed in the nation’s economic and social development will be one of the major determinants of the success or failure of 1 Malaysia.

It was with the advent of British colonial rule and the mass influx of Chinese and Indian migrant labour that the question of ethnicity in its present form emerged as a formidable challenge. In fact, it was because colonial capitalism had become so dominant and had, in the process, enhanced the power of both the British and their Chinese compradors that the former, at the urging of the Malay elite, introduced Malay reserves, and set aside business licences and scholarships for the community as a sort of sop to a people who had been marginalised in the land which carried their name and embodied their identity.

This was the beginning of the special position of the Malays and the other indigenous communities which is now entrenched in the Malaysian Constitution. For the Malays, special position at the time of Merdeka in 1957 was the armour that protected an abysmally poor people after their rulers had conferred citizenship, on extraordinarily generous terms, upon more than a million recently domiciled Chinese and Indians. A market economy in which the Chinese were ubiquitous added significance to that armour just as democratic competition for votes made it inevitable that popular perceptions of who is economically strong and who is economically vulnerable would shape politics and power.

Considering all these factors it is not surprising that ethnicity has become the DNA of the Malaysian economy and society. What has been the impact of this DNA? What are the positive and negative consequences of the emphasis upon ethnicity in the economy for Malaysian society as a whole which may provide pointers for the 1 Malaysia mission?

The determined drive to uplift the Malays especially after the formulation and implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) has resulted in the massive economic and social transformation of the community within the short span of a single generation — a transformation which has few parallels in contemporary history. Not only has Malay poverty been reduced to 5.1 per cent (those living below the poverty line) today compared to 70 per cent in 1957, but the Malays have also become a significant component (40 per cent) of the middle class. They are represented substantially in all the leading professions and are a visible presence in the upper echelons of commerce and industry.

This transformation has benefitted the nation in at least three inter-related ways. One, it has made the middle-class multi-ethnic, and consequently, has provided a secure anchor for the nation. A preponderantly non-Malay middle-class, as was the case in the Sixties and early Seventies, would not have ensured that stability. Two, it has reduced ethnic disparities, and accompanying perceptions of wealth and deprivation, which explains to an extent the relative inter-ethnic peace that we have enjoyed in the last four decades. It is one of the reasons why the 1998 financial crisis did not give rise to a communal conflagration. Three, if was no transformation, it is quite conceivable that the practice of democracy would have been under tremendous strain for the simple reason that when an indigenous majority feels severely disadvantaged under a one-person, one-vote system it would have no compunctions about jettisoning the system.

Nonetheless, the ethnic approach to the economy has its downside as well. One, it has constricted educational and economic opportunities for important sections of the non-Malay communities and, in many instances, constrained their social mobility. Two, in the last two decades, a segment of the urban Malay community has begun to realise that politically well-connected elements especially in the middle and upper strata have benefitted much more from contracts, licences, shares and directorships disbursed in the name of helping the community than ordinary Malays who continue to struggle to eke out a living. Affirmative action programmes in a number of other countries also suffer from this malady. Three, in spite of the ethnic peace it has brought about, the ethnic approach has undoubtedly increased ethnic polarisation at various levels of society.

This is why in our quest for 1 Malaysia there is a critical need to ameliorate the adverse impact of the ethnic approach. Among the measures that could be considered are the following:
One, the equilibrium established in the Constitution between “special position” and “the legitimate interests of other communities” should be faithfully observed in the promulgation of policy and its implementation. What this means is that justice should be done to each and every ethnic group.

Two, the concept behind the first prong of the NEP, “the eradication of poverty irrespective of ethnicity” should be expanded to embrace the needy and the disadvantaged, whatever their cultural or religious background. In other words, need — not ethnicity — should be the guiding principle in providing assistance in areas such as education and housing.

Three, the second prong of the NEP, “reduction in the identification of economic function with ethnicity” should apply to both the private and public sectors, and should be implemented with due regard to ability and excellence.

Four, there should be a concerted effort to curb corruption, abuse of power and greed at all levels of society.

Five, media practitioners, politicians, bureaucrats, business people, and indeed the influential stratum of society should be encouraged to view issues of ethnicity in relation to the economy from a more holistic perspective that takes into consideration the interests and feelings of the other. An all-encompassing understanding of justice that goes beyond ethnic boundaries is imperative if one is to achieve the goal of 1 Malaysia.

Elements from all five proposals are already part of the agenda of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The challenge before us is to make de-ethnicising the economy and enhancing justice for all, the agenda of each and every Malaysian.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is chairman of the Board of Trustees of 1 Malaysia and professor of global studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are we Malaysians racist?

I recently queried through the facebook about Malaysian’s perception if we The Malaysians are racist. More than 40 frank comments were generated. This is my summary and thank you note.

Thanks for the feedback.

Your answers have helped me frame ideas for a larger survey i would like to undertake early next year. Let's find out the perceptions and why ... and hope the answers can help prepare a remedy.

Eileen, as for your inquiry of my tots on the subject, I think Malaysians are generally racial which is natural because Malaysia has chosen 'an integration approach' rather than ' assimilation' as practiced by Thailand and Indonesia. So we Malaysians still have our ethnic identity intact .

Our forefathers i guess were optimists and see the wisdom of multiculturalism. If we went the Indonesian way, history would be different - for good or for worst. I do not see any problem for anyone to be racial. Our familiarity and liking towards things that are familiar to us is only natural. For example, we Penangites love the laksa, but my relatives in Medan tot I was crazy to love such a 'sour and smelly bowl of shit' (haha! that was a cousin's summary of Penangites favorite dish!!!)....

But because we kept our ethnic identity intact, it is easier to turn racist. But I see Malaysians turning to racism as a reaction to perceive or real feelings of discrimination or being left out of development. It does not originate from the inside, but triggered from the outside.

For example, there seems to be a correlation to the height of racism over the years with the economic environment. When the economy is bad, it goes up, but when it’s good it goes down.

Even Indonesia which where ethnic Chinese are assimilated and would proudly answer " Saya orang Indonesia" as oppose to " I am Chinese ", were bashed, raped and persecuted during the height of the 97/98 economic crisis. The perception of wealth being usurped by a particular community triggered the animal in many to the point that even children were not spared.

Perhaps, after a deeper research I can give u all a better overview and perhaps some action ideas we can all take to make good this country and make a difference.

peace, many colors one race, anas

Can a nonMalay/Muslim be our PM?

A facebook friend, a young Malaysian asked if a Non Malay/ Muslim can be a PM ... here's my brief answer -

"siapa saja boleh jadi pemimpin jika sekiranya beliau boleh dapat cukup/ majoriti pengikut :) . Jadi, persoalan dimana bolehkah seorang bukan Melayu/Islam boleh menjadi PM adalah bersifat akademik dan tidak sebegitu penting atau relevan.

Kebanyakan pehak politik dan bukan politik yang mendepankan perkara ini besar kemungkinan tidak begitu arif mengenai fitrah kepimpinan ataupun sengaja menggunakan topik ini untuk populariti.

Pertikaian ini adalah salah satu pembuangan masa yang kita selalu buat di Malaysia. Saya mengesyorkan supaya masa kita harus diguna pakai dengan lebih baik seperti membaca ataupun bekerja dengan lebih kuat dan efisyen. "

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Edge Interview Last week

1. What does your job entail and what do you like most about it?

Basically I will clarify goals, set directions, the pace of the organization and make sure that everybody runs at the same speed but faster than the competition. I also teach and write the (training) programmes. I like my job because I’ve managed to create a profitable business that allows me to promote my social cause at the same time.

2. What are the main programmes conducted by the company?

Our main programme is called MAD – Making a Difference. It is a change programme that companies can use to help their people move from where they are right now to where the corporate objectives are. Let’s say a company had just gone through a merger of two different cultures and they want to build a new culture; we help them build the culture. The MAD programme is a very good tools to help companies achieve their soft goals.

3. Who are your main clients?

Our clients are multinational companies and local companies, big and small. We also deal with small boutique companies. My partner and I decided years ago to have a diverse list of clients. You see, before 1998, I decided to focus on one or two big clients. But when the (1998 Asian financial) crisis came, it hit me because when I lose one client, I lose everything. In 1999, when I relooked at my business, I decided to have as many clients, in that way our business is more stable.

4. What is your management style?

We are very casual and relaxed in the way we run things but we’ve serious in the business. In other words, the substance is very serious; the form is a lot of fun. The way I manage is I like to see my people happy and performing. So if they’re happy but not performing, I won’t accept it. if there’re performing but not happy, then I’m not happy. I want to make sure they’re both happy and performing. I create an environment whereby people will be having a little bit of fun but are also doing their job.

5. How do you achieve the balance between employee who are happy and
performing at the same time?

Get people to learn to be happy when they perform. Here we are very laissez faire, we call each other by name, they can laugh at the bosses, and they can poke fun at us, it’s no problem. Work is work, fun is fun.

6. How do you handle conflicts that arise in the workplace?

We deal with it quite directly. With key people in my company, I always have one-on-one sessions with them. In other words, I like to engage my people and I also ask them to do SWOT (Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat) analysis on themselves, the company and myself. In other words, everybody is given a chance to say what is good and bad for the company. Normally this is the time of the year that I will ask everybody to send me a SWOT analysis of the company. After I listen to everyone, I will go back and think about it and form next year’s goal and direction.

7. What has been your worst management decision and in hindsight, how
would you have done it differently?

I find it hard to pinpoint because I’m a very slow and steady person. I don’t take high risk, I don’t take low risk; I’m a very medium-risk taker. Because of that, no really bad thing has happened. Anything that happened in the past that’s not good may turn our for the better. Because of that you learn, you make things even better.

8. What’s the best management advice you’ve ever received and from

They are a few, but the best advice I have, whether in running a business or life, is the Quranic statement that says, ‘Don’t hold everything until you choke, don’t let it go until you lose everything.’ There’s always a balance you have to find.

9. You have taking out unity-themed advertisements in newspapers since
2000. What sparked the idea for the ads?

Well, I’ve wanted to do it since I was young. I was just waiting to have money! When I have really a lot of money, I’ll go on TV, billboards. Now we have Facebook. We’ve going to find as many avenues as possible to spread the message of unity.

10. How much have you spent in placing the ads so far?

Around RM 1.5 million.

11. How has the ad spend affected your bottom line?

Well, the company has survived since 1994, and it has grown since 2001. Since I advertised, the company grew about 10 times. But the advertisements are a small part. You see, a lot of people don’t understand that advertising only works when your product is good. In fact, the best way to kill a lousy product is to advertise it.

12. How has unity added value to your company?

Well, bcause out approach is ‘many colours, one race’, we have clients who represent the whole of Malaysia. That’s the reason out client are so varied. We do not confine ourselves to one particular race or to one particular group of people. Our business also reflect that. We add value to the company because unity at the end of the day is the goal of humanity and obviously, my company is moving towards it and people will follow.

13. What do you think of the 1Malaysia concept?

I think it’s a very nice relaunch of the Rukun Negara. The brand ‘1Malaysia’ is so easy to remember and very well done so that it become a catchphrase. What we need to do it to take away 1Malaysia from the perception that it belongs to (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib or Barisan Nasional. 1Malaysia has to become a hak rakyat. I support 1Malaysia and I think we need to take it away from the politicians, bring it down to the people and make it Malaysian-owned.