Malaysia: Leading vs Managing


It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. —Nelson Mandela

I almost forgot I had a blog…seriously

Politics (not to mention our currency) have take a good beating in the last few weeks and all sign on the wall does not seems to say it is all well in the Bolehland. The country is facing a serious lack of leadership if you have not noticed this by now.

Leadership has always been my favorite subject mainly because it is fascinating to see how some ordinary people found that special will, power and determination to bring a group of people, company and even a nation from the brink of disaster or crisis and remained a beacon of hope and inspiration to others. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and even our own Tunku Abdul Rahman are just some of the leaders that we can read from the history pages but there are many leaders in the corporate world, politics and community that have done things that simply amazing.

It is also my favorite subject because in my daily working life, I have to take up the role of a leader and thus expected to make good decisions that a good leader is expected to be. Then again, I am also expected to both lead and manage – we will come to the differences in a short while. Some are simply natural born leaders – such as one of my ex-bosses. Some are trained to be leaders but still struggling to find the right foot hold on the idea of leadership.

As I said, the country is facing a serious lack of leadership if you have not noticed this by now.

I am not talking about the Prime Minister remaining to be defiant on the question of RM2.6 billion “donation” and acts like nothing wrong had happened. It was rather comical AND embarrassing when Malaysia hosted the International Anti-Corruption Conference last September and it did not take long for the participants (Transparency International Chief Jose Ugaz in particular) to whack the Prime Minister on the RM2.6 billion donation.

Tunku Abdul Rahman was known as the Father of the Nation and marked his leadership with getting independence for this great nation. Tun Abdul Razak was the Father of Development (the famed FELDA was established under his premiership). Hussein Onn was the Father of National Unity and finally Dr M was the real architect in modernising the country. And despite all the shortcomings, the Old Man did come up with a proper vision for the future – Vision 2020.

After Dr M, the country’s leadership took a back seat and the deterioration started with Pak Lah. Other than nice to hear slogans such as “work with me, don’t work for me” and “1Malaysia” nothing much change yet to be seen over the horizon. The bigger question will then be – are we running out of good leaders to lead this country? And secondly, can we get one in before it is too late? And who do we need the most at this juncture when the economy is not doing that well – good leaders or good managers?

And mind you that leadership and management are 2 different things but as usual as I often find out, the line between the 2 is often blurred.

Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.

In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of the differences:

– The manager administers; the leader innovates.
– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
– The manager maintains; the leader develops.
– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
– The manager imitates; the leader originates.
– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory probably didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done as ordered. The focus was on efficiency.

(Source)

To be frank, there is no short of managers in this country especially when it comes to politics. We have some of the most brilliant minds in public service and the private sectors. That is almost guaranteed. We can manage things well, sometimes too well. Ever heard the notion of “first class infrastructure, third class mentality”? Yup, that’s Malaysia right there.

However, recently there is a feeling of stagnancy (and no thanks to the dreadful haze) and the feeling is all over the place – the economy, people, education, environment, etc. Increasingly we are looking at 2 faced leaders who says one thing and do another. We had rallies but it ended up making things worse and hardly helping the country as whole. Leadership, it is missing now.

Until next time…

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The Struggle


In case you missed reading this in the past weeks…

invictus2d

(Invictus – starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. It is one movie that portrays Nelson Mandela in his best moments and no one had does it better than Morgan Freeman. Image source: http://www.dvdactive.com)

When a political party is having its usual general assemblies – you can be assured that there always be some “interesting” statements made in the general public. But then over the weekend, bored with the re-run programs that Astro was dishing out, I decided to go through my collection of movies and one stood out from the rest – Invictus. Once you have watched this movie, then what is being said below makes a lot of sense.

Umno President Najib Razak diminished the stature of a great man when he said last Saturday at his party’s general assembly that Umno fought for the “same cause” as Nelson Mandela, who had died two days before.

What same cause? Mandela fought against racial discrimination whereas Umno institutionalised racial discrimination a few decades ago and still upholds it. Mandela never advocated black supremacy, whereas Umno promotes Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

After he became president of South Africa, Mandela proposed reconciliation and sought to bring the races in his country together, whereas in Malaysia, Umno divides the races in order to keep itself in power.

Even at its general assembly, Umno’s delegates lobbied for the ethnocentric ‘1Melayu’ to replace the more inclusive ‘1Malaysia’, bashed the Chinese for not supporting the party at the last general election, and demanded a bigger stake in the economy, totally ignoring the reality that most of the country’s economic development is now already in Malay hands.

Furthermore, no less an Umno leader than Awang Adek Hussin, who is also the country’s deputy finance minister, proposed that private companies should declare how they support the Bumiputera agenda in their annual reports. He also insisted that, because Malays now make up almost 70 per cent of the population, the hiring policy of private companies should reflect the country’s racial composition at every level.

This is effectively saying that CEOs of private companies should also be Malay, and that their staff should be 70 per cent Malay. Indeed. Apa lagi Umno mahu? (What more does Umno want?)

On the other hand, does the civil service reflect the country’s racial composition? Are there 30 per cent non-Malay heads of department? In our public universities, are 30 per cent of vice-chancellors non-Malay?

Mandela did not take away the businesses of the whites in the name of affirmative action for the black South Africans. He allowed the whites to continue to control the economy and as a result of its being in experienced hands, South Africa’s economy grew at a steady, robust rate.

Mandela also believed in inclusiveness, in humanity and human rights. But Umno abhors lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs) although they are no less human beings. One delegate denigrated them by saying at the assembly that LGBTs exist so that “orang jahat (bad people) can be purged, leaving behind only the good people to inherit the earth”. How simplistically stupid, or stupidly simplistic.

Neither does Umno tolerate Shiite (Syiah) Muslims. Delegates urged that the Federal Constitution be amended to give recognition only to Sunni Islam. And Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his customary aggressive manner of winning support from the Umno flock, seized the moment to accuse the “No. 2” man in the Opposition party PAS of being a Shiite leader. He called for action to be taken against the latter. It was a clear manifestation of gutter politics posing under the guise of religion.

How, then, could Najib have had the temerity to draw parallels between Umno and Mandela? They couldn’t be more worlds apart. How could he have said what he said and not appear foolish to the outside world? He might have been able to deceive his audience of Umno members, but he cannot deceive the intelligent and discerning.

He apparently rationalised it by claiming that no race has been deprived under the New Economic Policy (NEP). He probably knows better – or else he is ignorant or dumb – but he still played to the gallery. When he asked his audience, “Were (other races) sidelined during the NEP? Did we ever hurt the livelihood of other races?”, they of course responded with a resounding “no”. This of course is an act of syiok sendiri too.

They chose to conveniently forget the millions of non-Malays who over the decades have been deprived of places in public universities, scholarships, jobs in the civil service, promotions, higher ranks in the security forces, government projects (except the big crony Chinese companies), etc.

They pretended not to know that the non-Malays most hurt by the NEP were the low-income and middle-class groups. Many of their children could not pursue tertiary education through lack of means. Those who could had parents who worked extra hard to make extra money to send their children to private institutions.

They chose to ignore the truth that the push for Ketuanan Melayu caused non-Malays to be sidelined in unjust, uncountable ways and turned them into second-class citizens. Now, to add insult to injury, they profess no knowledge of all that, still present the Malays as victims after more than 50 years of independence from the British “oppressors”, brand the “foreign races” (meaning non-Malays) as threats, lament that the Malays might become “slaves in their own land”, ask for more handouts, more projects, more quotas.

Enough is never enough. At every annual general assembly, they dish out the same laments, the same non-Malay bashing, the same demands for more opportunities while at the same time moaning that Malay entrepreneurs still need “hand-holding”. Their thinking is this: Ask and it shall be given. Just like that. No need to prove their abilities first, no need to be free of “hand-holding” first, no need to work to attain their goals. That’s the attitude they take.

And this is equated with Mandela’s struggle?

This sort of attitude exhibited by Umno is what pisses off a lot of people and makes them hate the party. If Najib’s comparison between Umno and Mandela doesn’t piss off the South African Government, well, that’s its business. But if it does, President Jacob Zuma might want to demand an apology from Najib for showing disrespect and distorting the principles of the great Mandela.

Najib cannot exploit a good man’s name to justify his party’s petty schemes.

(Source)

Ha ha, good one…

Quotable Quotes 3


Foremost, rest in peace to former South African President Nelson Mandela who passed away last Thursday. A real statesman like him will be greatly missed.

Taller_Buddha_of_Bamiyan_before_and_after_destruction

(Here’s one fine example of “instead of giving priority to the minorities, just concentrate on the majority”, courtesy of the Taliban – never forget one’s history even if it took place thousand years ago when “ketuanan” thing was almost non-existence and traders, preachers and intellectuals from every great civilizations made this country their home and trading port. Image source: Wikipedia)

Let’s start with this:-

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said those who avoid paying tax can be regarded as having betrayed the country. This, he said, was because the responsibility to pay tax was one of the pillars of patriotism.

“The definition of patriotism in our country is that we must discharge our responsibility to the country for the good of the people and the nation.

“When we pay tax, we are helping the people. We instil this spirit, with this our country will be more successful,” he said when opening the National Economic Empowerment (Pena) Conference at the Federal Territory Mosque auditorium here today.

(Source)

You see, sometimes, I am not sure if we are suppose to be pitiful or angry on how Najib – the Prime Minister is behaving and making public statements. And for him to come out and call the tax-evaders traitors was rather confusing. While we strongly agree that tax-evaders should not be let off the hook and we strongly support any means to bring them to book, the real question is whether this another wayang kulit to deflect the attention on the latest fiasco on his wife? I don’t know but one thing for sure, it is bad timing for Najib to say these things. After all, if he is saying that whoever don’t pay their taxpayers as traitors, what about those who misuse the taxpayers and remains unpunished & unaccountable to anyone? What you call them these daylight robbers – ahem, national heroes?

From one pro-BN blog, the same sentiments was echoed and the over-spending and the abuse of taxpayers money is very worrying (ha ha, after riding high on Anwar’s sodomy’s case some time ago, these guys now realised that there are better ways to be sodomised left, right & centre and the Government is dishing it out on a regular basis. Interesting to see them being very restless now):-

Then it gets a bit more interestingly dumb…

Johor Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat today urged Putrajaya to form a committee to audit non-Bumiputera companies for not hiring Malay chief executives (CEO).

They (the Malays) are given low wages, poor chances and positions far from CEO positions, therefore Pemuda Johor welcomes (Khairy’s) call,” Khairul said during his address to Youth delegates at Umno Youth Annual General Assembly held in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), today.

(Source)

I just do not know whether it is even possible to comment on one of the dumbest statement of year. Not sure if one can stoop that low to even to think of this idea of forming a committee to investigate the non-bumiputera companies who do not have a Malay as the CEO. Why stop at a committee? Why not go ahead and make a law that all CEOs must be a Malay? The level of greediness for high pay & position without the hard work & the experience is astounding.

Think about it – if I am a businessman and it’s my money, my main goal would be to get my company profitable, be a market leader in whatever industry I am in and make my shareholders very happy. For that, to run the company, I would pick the best, the most skilled & experienced people (with proper tactics and vision) to run the company. It does not matter whether that person is a Malay (my ex-boss was one fine CEO and he was highly professional too), Non Malay, Mat Salleh or even Martian. No one in their right mind would take any half past six idiot with nothing to show as the CEO – there must certain minimum qualifications attached to it and “color of the skin” on its own is not one of that qualification. Same shit happened here and makes the call to bring back brilliant Malaysians from abroad to serve the country ends up just another loud fart in the wind.

Of course, we can always trust them to put the cherry on the cake…

Kedah delegate Tajul Urus Mat Zain said the government’s move to gazette the land will only result in it losing votes at the next general election. Tajul, who is also Kedah state exco member and Tanjung Dawai state assemblyman, said almost every house might have a candi underneath.

“Instead of giving priority to the minorities, just concentrate on the majority.

(Source)

Let’s face the hard-cold fact – the real history is dead in this country and everything simply boils down to race and religion and it gets manipulated even more by short minded politicians, out to score some cheap points. Just because the candi was used to be a Hindu temple more than a thousand years ago, it does not mean it is not part of the rich history of this country. One cannot be so ignorant – after all, the Malay culture has been richly infused with the past Arab, Hindu, Buddhist & Chinese influence and same goes to others who come to this great country (good example, we have even ang-pows in yellow packets for Deepavali now, ha ha). In fact, one would not be wrong to think that the ancestors of the present people in Kedah could have been the builders the very candi that the developer had “ignorantly” demolished. So can this important link to the past be easily wiped out with a stroke of a pen?

And if indeed the Government only focus on the “majority”, then you can count on losing every historic monument that is not related to the “majority” in this country one day. Still remember the uproar on our mission based national schools? Still remember on how the Taliban demolished the thousand year old Buddhas of Bamiyan just because it does not conform to the “majority” belief in the country? Interestingly the excuse that Taliban gave in demolishing the statute was this – “…destroying the statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue…”. Are we seeing the same insane thing creeping up in Malaysia?

Being Polite Part 1


(How often you have people behind the counter treating you like you owe them something? – Cartoon source: http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/)

Just the other day, I watched the movie “Invictus” and noticed that Nelson Mandela (excellently acted by Morgan Freeman) was a very polite man. He was courteous and well mannered even to his “ex-enemies”. In case you missed Invictus, the movie was about a leader who was trying to get his country united – bringing people from various background, culture and race as one nation (this movie should be watched by some so-called leaders in Malaysia – they can learn a thing or two if their ego is not bigger than their brain) through the game of rugby (played by a majority white).

Somehow after watching the movie, something about Nelson Mandela being polite stuck with me. And I start to reflect on my daily encounters with people. No need to look at how some people behave on the road – using the emergency lane, cutting queues, changing lanes without proper signal, hogging the road, using no-entry lanes, etc – they are nothing but selfish filthy bastards. No, I am not talking about them – for them, we need the strong hand of the law to deal with them (either increased in traffic fines – screw that for now or one hard whack on their bare buttocks once caught red-handed).

No, I am talking about the people who provide goods and services. How they treat us, the end purchasers or users? Do we get to hear the all important “please”, “sorry” and “thanks”?

2 weeks ago, I took my family out for dinner – we decided to go for the Chinese Restaurant near our house (we love this place – the food is good and reasonably priced and if we order takeaways, we get free drinks). Unfortunately when we arrived, there were no empty tables. The restaurant was so pack with large families. We were about to leave when we noticed one large group had finished their dinner and was leaving. We quickly took over the table. On the table, it was a mess, left by the earlier group – we wanted the restaurant staff to quickly clear the table.

However due to the crowd, the restaurant staff was busy but the owner had noticed us and came apologising to us and explained on the situation and asked us to be patient. He said he will get someone to clear the table as soon as possible. He apologised again. Soon after one staff came over, apologising for being late to clear the table and immediately cleared our table. Another came down and took our orders and we did not really need to wait long for dinner to be cooked. We did not mind waiting for our dinner as we understood that the kitchen had to cope with large orders for the night. We did not mind because we felt appreciated.

A week earlier, I took my car for service to my usual workshop (the place where I am usually known as the boss). After I had parked my car, I came out and told the mechanic that I wanted to service my car. The mechanic looked back at the number of cars at the shop and asked whether I was willing to wait for my turn. I said I had no problem. The workshop owner came in and decided to help out to clear the cars – soon he was working on my car. Advice and suggestions were given promptly and he even pointed out to my tires which was almost bald. I wanted to also add the fuel booster and I informed him and he thanked me. Service was done up fast and during that time and until I left the shop, I lost count of the “thanks” that I got from the owner.

The above is two simple examples where the businesses are simply being polite to its customers and in return get customers who wishes to go back to the same place in the future (even if at times, the cost of items in these places can be more expensive from other places).

To be continued…