Righting Writings

February 3, 2011

Decision making, Objective setting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 9:59 am

The New Straits Times on Wednesday 2 Feb reported about Zaid’s big dreams for KITA.  I do not want to delve into the politics of the story.  What interest me about the story is the objective set by Zaid for KITA.

Zaid of course was formerly the Law Minister brought into the Cabinet by the former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi via the conferment of Senatorship.  Zaid had immediately shown that he cannot be a team player.  During his term, he had several times announced action plans and initiatives that had yet to be presented to the Cabinet and thus caused embarrassment to the Prime Minister.  Yet, being the weak PM that Abdullah Badawi was, Zaid’s actions were tolerated to the extent that his actions mirrored those of the Opposition.

Zaid was then brought into PKR by Anwar Ibrahim.  But it soon became apparent that he was still the maverick.  He tried to ‘legitimise’ Pakatan Rakyat, hitherto an unofficial loose coalition of opposition parties, by drafting a constitution and submitting an application for its registration to the ROS.  Zaid was the protem Chairman of that protem Committee.  Ostensibly Zaid maintained that when the application is approved, the chairmanship (or President) would revert to Anwar Ibrahim, the current de facto leader.  The problem of course was that such actions had not
been discussed nor endorsed by the Pakatan Rakyat leadership.  It became clear in the following days that Zaid received no support for his actions.

Zaid resigned from PKR and is now the head of KITA.  Zaid certainly had ambitious plans for KITA.  At a recent press conference, he announced that ‘KITA’s aim is to become the country’s main opposition party.’  He had given a time frame of 15 to 20 years to achieve that ambition.

In answer to his critics, Zaid reportedly responded ‘Have I done anything that failed?  I have had many setbacks but I have not failed.’

I have only one comment.  For a person who aspires to achieve greatness for the country, Zaid has demonstrated yet again that he is actually narrow-minded, lacks vision and is without wisdom.

I fail to understand why anybody would enter politics just to be in Opposition.  Such objective setting smacks of inferiority complex and a confused mind.  Politicians are in the Opposition because their party had not received sufficient votes to be the Government.  They do not want to be in the Opposition.  Except Zaid.

And Zaid dreamt that KITA will be the main Opposition party in 15 to 20 years.  Actually timing is immaterial in this case.  But the plans are.  Since the target is 15 to 20 years time, it would be interesting to know his plans.

What projects does he have and can implement now that will influence the school kids and university students today who will be of voting age by that time?  Does he have any at all?

But then again it does not really matter does it? He actually wants to be in the Opposition.  Such targets are unfortunately easily achievable without much planning.

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September 18, 2010

Who has the power?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 9:33 am

I would like to share three items reported in the New Straits Time Saturday 18 September 2010.

The first was headlined “Tycoon: I didn’t threaten airline manager”.  It appeared that a group bound for Xiamen and Shanghai had ‘difficulties’ during check-in for the Cathay Pacific Airways flight at the Penang International Airport.  Tan Sri Tan Kok Peng, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce president then had an argument with airline station manager.

The following exchange of words was reported:

Station Manager: “You don’t make me angry.  I can use my power to make sure you don’t get onboard (the flight).”

Tan: “If you try to do so I will make sure it will not be easy for you to get a job in Penang.  I will write to your headquarters and have you transferred out.”

The news report did not mention what the problem was and whether it was finally resolved, but it interests me that the incident happened in the first place, and that it required the involvement of the station manager.  It also interests me why the delegation chose to use a foreign airline.

The second item was headlined “I’m no threat, Zaid tells critics in PKR.”  It was a report about Datuk Zaid Ibrahim being upset with the reactions of party members to his decision to contest the deputy presidency of the PKR.

Some of Zaid’s comments:

“If you feel your members cannot think for themselves, then just forget about the elections.”

“If I am that bad, I should not have been allowed into the party at all.  I f you think I am not that bad, then allow me a fair chance to contest.”

“Till today I cannot understand why everyone is so worked up and consider me a threat.”

“I am an honest man and my kind of politics is clear-cut and vision-based.”

“I have my own strengths which I believe can help the party.”

The news report did not mention whether Zaid received any support from fellow members.  It interests me about this man who firmly believes that he has all the answers and it appeared as if he has no supporters he is bull-headedly pursuing his intentions.  Maybe his supporters are the silent majority.

The third item was in the Business section headlined “Customers a top priority”

Esso Malaysia Berhad executive retail business director, Faridah Ali was reported to have said “The customer is always right.  We have various business targets, but the most important is increasing the customers’ satisfaction level.”

She is right of course.  Such statements have been the credo of all marketing personnel.  But how far were they practiced?

The first news item above reported about an airline station manager arguing with his customers and both the manager and his customers try to demonstrate their “powers”.

The second item tells of a man intent on ‘doing good’ for his customers even though indications are that he faces very strong opposition.  Does he have the power?

May 7, 2010

Are the children of today weaker?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 6:08 pm

The New Straits Times on 6 May 2010 had two stories that caught my interest.

One was headlined ‘Accidents, diseases at workplace on the rise’.  It reported that the number of accidents and diseases at the workplace tripled over the past five years.  The number of cases recorded last year was 669 compared with 244 in 2004, with a total of 185 cases reported between January and March this year.  Most of the cases were related to problems involving lungs, hearing, and muscular skeletal structure.

The other story was in the letters page headlined ‘When fears came true’.  The writer complained about the unsatisfactory conditions at the National Service camp in Kem Semberong, Batu Pahat, Johor where her son was sent to.  There was insufficient drinking water and food, and the accommodation was poorly maintained.  The serving of food was not supervised resulting in some trainees helping themselves to greater portions of the food leaving few or none for others.  The accommodation was poor.  The mosquito nets had holes.  The plaster and paint kept peeling off of the ceiling and dropping on the beds.

The two stories were unrelated but to me they highlighted a central issue – that we are now more susceptible to diseases and that our youngsters are being pampered and protected to the extent that they become hapless when removed from that protective environment.

The children of not too long ago were able to drink water straight from the tap.  They played around in the rain and rejoiced at having mud splattered all over their bodies, without a care in the world.  They may share and eat food from the same plate without any thought of taboo.  And yet they were still healthy and strong.

They walked or run to and from school every day.  They slept on the floor, often without blankets and certainly without air-conditioning.  And yet they can withstand the mosquitoes.

Parents were very strict then but they care about proper upbringing for their children.  They themselves may not be sufficiently schooled or educated but they made sure that their kids were indoctrinated with the right values.

Thus the children of not too long ago were taught to share and to respect and to survive.  They may not have much to eat and yet they can share what little they have.  They may be from different background and religion but they learn to respect one another.

We do not see much of that nowadays.

Somehow the parents of today (yes, they were the children of not too long ago) became overly protective of their children.  So much so, the children of today are given more parental protection right on through their teen years and sometimes even through their university and early working years.

Thus the children of today are poor at fending for themselves and become susceptible to simple diseases and unable to withstand a bit of hardship.

April 29, 2010

The Blame Game

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 10:50 am

During my final years with a multi-national company prior to my retirement, I was in the HR department and often had to make decisions pertaining to discipline.  Needless to say whatever decisions I make on the cases before me, they are bound to impact the future of the parties involved.

I found very early that if I act according to the terms of reference of my office, the rules and regulations of the company and the general laws of Malaysia, I could make decisions without fear or favour.

There are always two sides to a dispute.  The issue of which side is right and which side is wrong often get blurred when emotions are high.

Thus it is important to get the facts of the case right and relate them to the pertinent rules and regulations.  The problem is always that the facts are not properly presented or that the parties involved are not aware of the rules and regulations.

Who is right?

NST on 28 April 2010 reported an incident where a 15-year old schoolboy was shot dead by Police.

“It was learnt that the victim and a schoolmate had gone to Section 7 (Shah Alam) just after midnight to help a friend who had a flat motorcycle tyre.

It was believed that the victim was then involved in a minor accident after which he was chased by several motorcyclists.  Two police cars then joined in the chase.

It was reported that the police tried to stop the car by firing several shots at the tyres, but one bullet hit Aminulrasyid in the back of his head”

Aminulrasyid’s family said that he ‘was a good boy who was not involved in any illegal activities’.

His mother said “I know my son.  He is not a criminal”.

The Home Minister ordered a full-scale investigation into the case.

The blame game

In the Hulu Selangor by-election on 25 April 2010, Pakatan Rakyat candidate, Zaid Ibrahim of the PKR, lost to the Barisan Nasional candidate, Kamalanathan of the MIC.  Zaid said that he accepted the verdict of the electorate but attributed his defeat to vote buying by the Barisan Nasional.

Khalid Ibrahim attributed the defeat to ‘unbalanced reporting by mainstream media’.  He said “the media did not provide coverage from our perspective and did not provide a level playing field of information to the voters”.

The Sun on 28 April reported that MCA ‘blames Perkasa for loss of Chinese support’.

MCA vice-president, Gan Ping Sieu, lambasted Perkasa president, Ibrahim Ali, for calling on the government to ‘delay allocations and project approvals for the Chinese community (in Hulu Selangor).  Ibrahim made the statement after the results of the by-election showed that Chinese support for the Barisan Nasional had reduced.  He allegedly branded the Chinese as ‘ungrateful and unappreciative’.

Gan reportedly said that one of the major reasons that the coalition lost the Chinese confidence was the ‘real or perceived alliance and close working relationship of certain BN leaders with ultra-rightist organisations’.

Who is responsible?

A Chinese national who made headlines previously by refusing to fly home has caused new headaches for the authorities.  Apparently she absconded from a hospital.

Wang Peng, a Falun Gong practitioner ran away from Serdang Hospital a day after she was admitted by Malaysia Airlines security personnel on Friday.

Wang had been staying in the KLIA satellite terminal since her arrival from Australia on April 16.  She was sent to a private hospital at the airport on Friday after a fainting spell and then sent to Serdang Hospital for treatment.  She was found missing the next morning.

NST reported that ‘the authorities did not have a clue as to how Wang managed to escape from the hospital’.

The Teoh Beng Hock inquest

The NST headline read ‘No red spots in eyes to show he was strangled’

The statement was attributed to British forensic pathologist Dr Peter Vanezis.  He was continuing his testimony into the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.  He is appearing for the MACC.  He had made a poliuce report after receiving an ‘offensive, intimidating and threatening’ email.  His testimony is in direct contrast to earlier statements from Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand who said that Teoh Beng Hock has been strangled.  Dr Pornthip was not present at the inquest because she ‘fears for her safety’.  She was originally slated to testify on April 20 but was unable to attend because of “prior commitments”, according to a letter sent to the Selangor government from the Thai Ministry of Justice on April 8.

She subsequently revealed that she was under pressure to pull out of the inquest, which had been relayed to the Thai government through “informal channels”.

Who to blame?

Another NST headline ‘RTD chief suspects moles in his dept’.

Terengganu state RTD chief Abdul Rahman Emang Anyie suspect there are moles in his department and wants to get to the bottom of it.

His suspicion is based on the lack of success in ‘operations carried out over the last few weeks’.

I am including the above because I feel this to be typical bureaucratic reaction.  The chief went public on this because he wanted to show that he will take action.  However it only serves to show his lack of control over his own officers.

April 10, 2010

What makes a good leader

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 6:06 pm

The Sun on 9 April 2010 frontpaged the resignation of Senator Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun from all her party posts and government appointments as well as her Wanita MCA chief post.  This was in keeping with her promise to do so in the event Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek got elected as the President of MCA.

The Sun headlined the story “Chew’s parting shot’.

Chew reportedly said “If we accept without question leaders who are not good role models, it will send a negative message to the people”

She further said “This is a direct affront to the system of democracy.  This will cause the party to be rejected by the people”.

She will submit her resignation letters and will quit as senator and Deputy Minister.  She will be on leave until April 28.

I am drawn to comment on this episode because of several issues.

First, Chew has to resign from the Wanita MCA leadership because that was what she promised to do.  This is a reminder that a leader always has to represent his/her followers.  When she promised to resign as MCA Wanita chief if Chua hot elected, was that the wishes of Wanita MCA members?  Remember that she was not present when Wanita MCA held their AGM on 6 March 2010.

Second, why has she got to quit as senator, deputy minister and other government positions as well?  I do not know if there are any connections between being a Wanita MCA chief and the deputy minister post.  I thought that appointments to the ministerial positions are the prerogative of the prime minister.

Third, I thought that democracy calls for all participating parties to respect the wishes of the majority.  So how does the decision of the majority be “a direct affront to the system of democracy”?  Chew was one of those calling for fresh MCA elections to end the quagmire.  Yet she is saying that the results are an affront to democracy?  To me, the MCA members have made their choice.  All MCA members have to respect that choice.  Whether that choice will make it stronger and more acceptable to Malaysians in general will depend on how MCA members move on from here, and face that test in another forum.

Fourth, she is not resigning immediately.  Being a conscientious leader, she would require some time to clear up some outstanding business before handing over to her successor.  But she is also on leave until her resignation on 28 April.  To me this means she is already not working.  Yet technically she is still holding on to all her positions and appointments.  I don’t want to speculate on the reasons why.

It would be normal for some to think of her actions as being noble.  Datuk Yu Chok Tow who takes over the top Wanita MCA post remarked that Chew’s resignation was to defend the dignity of women and to safeguard the integrity of the party.  “This practice (the resignations) is noteworthy and sets an example for all of us”.

I am inclined to grade the above remarks as purely political, sounds nice but devoid of any real meaning.  Such are remarks that politicians are capable of saying.

But real leaders should be capable of uttering remarks that can inspire people to move on and drive people towards greater achievement.  And because a leader is also representing his followers, he has to ensure that his remarks do represent the thinking of his followers, or that he has managed to influence his followers to accept his line of thinking.

A leader must also be able to understand issues, be able to adjust positions and have the strength and courage to remain focused on the mission.  More importantly he must not fall prey to the temptations of short term gains.

March 2, 2010

The power of the written word

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 8:13 am

Here is an example of the power of the written word.  How it can shape public opinion and how it can trigger emotions.

The Star online on I March 2010 headlined a story as follows ‘Teoh could have been strangled, choked before death’.

Berita Harian on the same day for the same story headlined it as follows ‘Ahli patologi tak dapat pastikan Teoh dicekik’.  Roughly translated, the Berita Harian headline says ‘The pathologist could not determine whether Teoh was strangled’.

It is very interesting how the same event can be reported so as to convey opposite meaning just by being clever and creative in the choice of words.

Actually both headlines say the same thing.  But because the emphasis was on different angles to the story, the reader was presented with seemingly opposite viewpoints.

This reminded me of the description of the half-empty glass or the half-full glass.

Politicians are clever at this game of saying the same thing but conveying different meaning.

February 9, 2010

Perak Bollywood Drama – The Sequel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 7:05 pm

The verdict is in.  The winner of the third round in the Perak MB battle is Zambry.  The Appeals Court ruled that the Sultan of Perak had acted rightfully.  Under Article 16(6) or in other provisions of the State Constitution, the loss of confidence in the Menteri Besar may be established by other means other than by vote in the state assembly.

The Appeals Court verdict was uninamous.

Zambry of course is happy.  Nizar of course is sad.

“We accept the decision even though this is very upsetting,” Nizar told reporters at the Palace of Justice here Tuesday.

Nizar said if the state assembly was not dissolved to pave the way for fresh elections, the people of the state would have wait till the general election to decide who should govern them.

“We will hold discussions with other party leaders and lawyers on whether to raise Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court (to review the court ruling),” he said, adding that the court verdict was “not unexpected.”

So there we have it.  There may still be the fourth round yet.

January 24, 2010

Safety on the road

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 11:51 am

The New Straits Times on 23 January 2010 carried a news item headlined ‘RM500,000 fine too high for bus, lorry firms’.  The government is proposing the increase in the wake of several fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles recently.

It reported that bus and lorry operators are against the proposal.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Dr Mohd Ashraf Ali described the amount as too high and could scare people into leaving the industry.

Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association Er Sui See called the proposal ‘ridiculous’.  “A compound like that will close any lorry company down”.

So there we have it, peoples safety and lives argued in ringgit and sen.

The government should proceed with the recommendation.

Bus and lorry operators should not worry as they need not pay a single sen in fines if they have not committed any offence.  These operators make a mockery of the system if they can get away with offences by just paying a fine.   They should be responsible enough to ensure that their employees are well trained and civic-minded to respect the safety and lives of others if not their own.  Indeed if they see it fit not to heed this requirement then they should not be in the business.

As it is now, the operators prefer to avoid spending on safety measures and training of their employees.  After all they are not likely to get caught.  Even if they are caught, they can always pay the fine or compound.  And that is cheaper than investing on safety measures or training.

November 30, 2009

A Prediction

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 10:00 pm

A report in the local papers caught my eye.  As reported in the Star today:

“Starting next year, taxi drivers who fail to issue receipts to their passengers will face stern action by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board.

CVLB chairman Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said the action would include withdrawing their permits.

To date, 90% of the taxi drivers nationwide have calibrated their meters according to the new fare and installed a printer to issue receipts.

The CVLB has set Dec 31 as the deadline to comply with the new regulation, failing which the taxi drivers will not be allowed to operate.

However, 1,260 taxi drivers in Penang have been given until June 30 next year to calibrate their meters and to install the fare printer as the gadget can cost as much as RM350.”

I would like to make a prediction here.  I predict that it will not happen.  Well, it would happen for a while, maybe a few months, and then it will die a natural death.

In the meantime some cronies would have made a few quick bucks.

Lets just say a printer cost much less, like RM200.  Multiply that by the 31,000 taxis in the country.  That’s a cool 6.2 million bucks.  How long will it last?  I predict about 6 months.

I can picture the various excuses that will come out.

November 24, 2009

Of Declassifying ofdocuments

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mokhtar Ahmad @ 3:10 pm

KUALA LUMPUR 24 November 2009: The Selangor government cannot announce the details of the report on the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy on Tuesday following its failure to get the secret classification on it changed by the Works Ministry.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the ministry informed him Monday that the details could not be revealed as the Cabinet had classified the documents on them as secret.

He said this in a statement to the media here Monday night.

Abdul Khalid, prior to this, had said details on the tragedy in which five people lost their lives after a massive landslide buried their homes in Taman Bukit Mewah, Bukit Antarabangsa near Kuala Lumpur on Dec 6 last year, would be revealed to the public Tuesday. – Bernama

 

This is a classic case of sensationalizing issues.  Rescue efforts during the landslide were carried out by the Works Ministry, a Federal Government agency.  The State Government did not do much, could not even coordinate the various volunteer groups at hand to assist.

The Menteri Besar announced that State Government will de classify the documents knowing fully well that the State Government had no jurisdiction.  So now idea is implanted into everyone’s mind, that it is the Cabinet who does not want to declassify the documents.

Smart move!

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