Consumerist: Are We A Community Of Integrity I ask My Peers?

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‘Now the pertinent question is are we upholding integrity in our sphere of work or are we too, pretenders who are wearing many layers of masks to hide the real us – the real us that is more interested in our own personal successes and move up the career ladder and dam others who may be perceived as a threat to our domination, jurisdiction and past influence at where we are?

This is directed to all of us – yes you too!’

Consumerist: Are We A Community Of Integrity I ask My Peers?

I cannot but go back to what my late grandfather Mr George Philip, an educationist who was well known among our Malayalee community especially in Sungei Petani, Kedah, and peer of the founding fathers of Malaysia among them our first two premiers!

‘Apachen’ – as I called him just told me always –

“Boy let your answers be always short a straight ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’ and anything outside that is a lie!”

Looking back I can still see and feel the strength of that statement in my daily life as a consumerist and lawyer and now working for a MNC!

Of course, as a educationist, Apachen always reminded his students and of course me – of academic honesty policies during the first few days of classes.

Among other things, the school’s requirements for submitting original work, policies regarding cheating, and expectations of student behavior.

In his students and I, he was not certainly accusing us or even suggesting we are cheaters rather that to inform us he expects his students and of course me that we must all act with a certain degree of integrity.

As a Malaysian lead consumerist, it is my contention that Integrity is a term used to describe a person’s level of honesty, moral commitments, and willingness to do what is right!

In society we expect our physicians and doctors to be honest with us about diagnoses, that they should not try to prescribe medications we do not need and only give us medication or prescription that will generally work in the best interest of our health and well-being.

We expect the same of the civil servants in the country’s administration, to carry out their task with a high sense and commitment to integrity!

We do not expect our Director General of Health to be an ass hole, our politicians to be racists and speak with double talk or claim that they are only representing a particular race and religion and not the Malaysian community!

Like doctors, lawyers, corporate internal legal counsels, politicians and others in the civil society to be people of great integrity with strong moral compasses.

As far as I am concerned and in today’s Malaysian context – the most important people we expect to act with integrity are politicians.

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When politicians are campaigning for public office, they make many promises and claims about what they will do if they are elected.

Do they say in their speeches then that they only represent one race, religion, that they support racist and fascist policies and various hybrid forms of apartheid?

Do they?

In general, candidates are elected precisely because of representations and claims they will uphold the tenets of the Federal Constitution, the Rukun Negara, the Law of the Land and all communities, which make their integrity one of the most important characteristics.

Unfortunately, though, politicians make a lot of claims on the campaign trail that they after being elected do not always follow through on.

In today’s Malaysian context this calls their integrity into question and seriously weakens their chances of being re-elected.

The Civil Servants, Academics and politics are major areas where integrity is important, but more than any other, integrity is fundamental to law enforcement and the justice system.

Broadly speaking, we all expect that police officers and judges will be impartial and will uphold the law honestly, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, or other characteristics.

Recently, however, the integrity of law enforcement and the justice system has increasingly being called into question.

In many international jurisdictions, law enforcement personnel are expected to act with great integrity, regardless of their personal beliefs or opinions. justice

For example, there has been a growing focus on police brutality and unfair practices in the United States, particularly as they relate to racial and ethnic minorities.

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For many of my dear friends who are Americans these allegations are hard to believe or even shocking.

This is because they expect law enforcement officers to conduct themselves honestly and adhere to the moral principle that all people are equal in the eyes of the law.

Now the pertinent question is are we upholding integrity in our sphere of work or are we too, pretenders who are wearing many layers of masks to hide the real us – the real us that is more interested in our own personal successes and move up the career ladder and dam others who may be perceived as a threat to our domination, jurisdiction and past influence at where we are?

This is directed to all of us – yes, you too!

                           

Consumerist: Australia Gets A New Prime Minister Who Believes In Consultation!

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‘What I really liked in the post-election press conference was the humility and cordiality in which Malcolm spoke.

He spoke of a consultative spirit, of inclusion politics not divisive, he spoke of engaging and not disenfranchising which were lessons for battered politicians to emulate within this region!’

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Consumerist: Australia Gets A New Prime Minister Who Believes In Consultation!

So finally after all the gaff Australia’s beleaguered prime minister Tony Abbott was ousted from power in an internal party ballot!

It was a strategic and much awaited move by the ruling conservative party to win back a disenchanted public by replacing the nation’s polarizing, gaffe-prone leader with his more moderate rival.

The votes – 54 to 44 to replace him with former Liberal Party leader and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull!

The fact is this change in leadership continues an extraordinarily volatile period in Australian politics.

And why?

Turnbull becomes Australia’s fourth prime minister in just over two years.

The political turbulence comes as Australia enters its record 25th year of continuous economic growth. However a cooling mining boom that helped Australia avoid recession during the global financial crisis has slashed tax revenue and a hostile Senate has blocked several key parts of the government’s financial agenda.

As an political analyst, I am certain that this change in leadership at the helm will also likely lead to a major cabinet reshuffle, involving Treasurer Joe Hockey, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Defense Minister Kevin Andrews and Employment Minister Eric Abetz among ministers who publicly supported Abbott against the Turnbull challenge.

Abbott’s former Liberal Party deputy, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who supported Turnbull’s bid, was re-elected party deputy. She defeated Andrews 70 votes to 30.

What I really liked in the post-election press conference was the humility and cordiality in which Malcolm spoke.

He spoke of a consultative spirit, of inclusion politics not divisive, he spoke of engaging and not disenfranchising which were lessons for battered politicians to emulate within this region!

Interestingly, one cannot but be excited at this form of politics of engagement and pray that it will go viral in the political world!

That will see the end of politics of hate, race, religion, race baiting and the colossal abuse of power and corruption that this region has seen of late!

I will seek to get an appointment to see him when the dust settles!

                           

Consumerist: Duplication & Idiots On Ego Trips Setbacks To Performance In Industry In Malaysia?

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‘Do Malaysian based industry players have a corporate strategy and plan that builds commitment — a competitive business strategy and strategic plan increases the chances that an organization will be successful and success builds commitment.

Or do we have self-serving idiots in high places, whose sole interest is to enhance and show off their power, undermine and basically hinder or destroy talent within?’

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Consumerist: Duplication & Idiots On Ego Trips Setbacks To Performance In Industry In Malaysia?

Increasing productivity is one of the most critical goals in business.

But sadly, because big business has also professional maniac on ego trips who are bent on creating their own castles which leads to duplication – chaos becomes the order of the day thus hindering rather than assisting!

Let us look at Human Resources role in Industry today in Malaysia.

While most HR professionals acknowledge that their job entails establishing policy, procedures, and programs governing people management, few attempt to connect such elements to increasing employee output (volume, speed, and quality) per each ringgit spent on labor costs (or as an easier to measure alternative, revenue per employee).

Bonus programs are typically enacted that keep total compensation in line with market trends, regardless of the value of work warranting incentive comp.

Training tools are often secured via the lowest-cost provider method with minimal consideration given to which provider would be most effective.

Recruiting practices too are more often managed with the primary goal of minimizing cost, not enabling business capability/capacity. Regardless of the function you look at, in the typical organization, HR is more concerned with executing transactions instead of delivering productivity solutions.

If you believe as most should that the combined efforts of the human resource function should positively influence the performance capability of the workforce instead of hindering it, you should understand the factors that influence performance.

I believe there are about 7 factors that may influence one’s Individual/Team Performance

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Foundations of Productivity

High-performing and innovative employees are the foundation of productivity — by far the most impact factor in workforce and team productivity is hiring and retaining employees with exceptional capabilities and self-motivation.

Basically, working together, managers and HR can attract, hire, develop, and retain individual employees who are agile, high-performing continuous learners and innovators. Unfortunately, even the best employees cannot perform without great managers, proper direction, support, tools, and resources.

Effective managers and leaders set direction and execute — a great manager/leader is the second-most important productivity factor.

Leaders and managers play a critical role in defining the direction, purpose, priorities, goals, and roles of the workforce.

The capability of the manager (with the support of HR) to develop plans, hire effectively, coach, motivate, and develop employees is crucial to success.

Sadly in many Malaysian industry – managers are the weak link in the productivity chain, so HR must accept the role of developing great leaders/managers and identifying/removing the ineffective ones.

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Direction and Guidance Factors

Do Malaysian based industry players have a corporate strategy and plan that builds commitment — a competitive business strategy and strategic plan increases the chances that an organization will be successful and success builds commitment.

Or do we have self-serving idiots in high places whose sole interest is to enhance and show off their power, undermine and basically destroy talent within?

Do we not think that in addition, if the plan and the strategy are clear and well communicated, not only will your employees be more motivated, but knowing the strategic direction will help them remain focused.

Corporate values that are measured and rewarded can also align behavior and build commitment.

A defined purpose for teams make roles clear — every business unit and team needs to understand its role.

Here managers and leaders need to develop a clear and communicated purpose that is both compelling and that makes members feel important.

We need to understand that employees are more likely to be committed to the purpose of the unit or team if they are involved in creating it.

And why?

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To me an unclear mission will result in a lack of focus and a low level of “engagement” and commitment toward achieving it.

Thus we need a team and individual goals — as having clear operational goals lets everyone know what is expected.

There is no need for second guessing!

If these goals are communicated and measurable, employees will understand precisely what is important and what is not.

If stretch but reachable goals are set, employees are less likely to become complacent.

This brings me to the all-important issue of prioritization for impact resource allocation — setting clear priorities helps to ensure that time and resources are allocated to the most important and impact tasks.

Yes, employees must be made aware of both high- and low-priority goals, tasks, processes, and customers.

Processes must be developed to ensure that resources are allocated disproportionately to high priority tasks.

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Performance metrics for continuous improvement — having effective metrics and reporting processes reinforces both team and individual goals.

This is because whatever is measured and reported gets done, metrics provide focus, feedback and result in continuous improvement.

Effective rewards drive performance — when monetary rewards are tied directly to performance and the metrics for each goal, you doubly reinforce the message about what is important. Individual and team monetary rewards, coupled with non monetary excitement factors, can play a major role in ensuring focus and consistent performance.

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Support Factors

Team member support increases individual performance — few tasks in this modern age can be completed by an individual employee working without support and most importantly without sabotage from within by pencil pushers sitting on their backsides sending emails to and fro!

Unless your employees are provided with complementary teammates, as well as the support of managers and employees outside the team, productivity is bound to suffer.

Best-practice sharing and collaboration improve productivity — learning by trial and error slows progress and leads to mass duplication of effort and higher error rates.

Productivity improves dramatically when others who are outside the team freely collaborate and proactively share best practices and ideas.

It is thus our role as practitioners to develop formal methods to increase cross-function collaboration and sharing.

Support for innovation can dramatically increase productivity — in most industries in Malaysia, the yearly increase in the level of productivity that is required to maintain a dominant position in the industry has increased dramatically.

The new reality is that productivity increases of between 10 and 25% are now required each year.

What is needed is a continuous level of innovation both in products and in business processes.

We must realize that increased efficiency for continuous improvement processes are not sufficient to provide that level of double-digit gain, so as practitioners we must develop processes, training, measures. and incentives that result in continuous innovation workforce wide.

Control and authority can enhance or hinder decision-making — a lack of control and excessive freedom can result in waste, duplication, and a lack of focus.

In direct contrast, micromanagement and excessive rules can slow decision-making and employee development.

Productivity is maximized when there is enough balance so that employees have enough control, authority, and permissions to make most operational decisions.

Non-monetary factors can also excite employees — in addition to formal rewards, managers, leaders, and teammates can provide non monetary factors that increase employee excitement, energy, motivation, and loyalty.

These factors can include praise, recognition, exposure, challenge, feedback, and learning opportunities.

It is our role to ensure that managers know how to effectively use these non monetary factors.

Not having the appropriate inputs can hinder productivity — in most cases, team and employee work is dependent on the inputs provided from other processes.

It is the manager’s role to ensure that these inputs are provided on time and of the right quality.

Make sure that the team’s output meets the standards set by the team responsible for the next step in the production process.

Barriers to productivity can limit success — often, even when every one of the positive productivity factors are present, productivity can be slowed or stopped by real or imagined barriers.

These roadblocks can include individuals resistant to change, corporate politics, personal jealousies, corporate rivalries and career sabotaging and, as well as powerful people who are threatened by more skilled individuals on board.

In addition, there may be perceived or imaginative barriers that keep employees from even attempting any effort aimed at increasing productivity or innovation.

In both cases, we need to work with managers in order to develop processes for identifying and eliminating any real or imagined barriers to productivity and growth!

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Skills, Communications, and Information Factors

Employee skills and knowledge must be continually updated to maintain productivity — and today’s global competition has created a rapid pace of change which means that current skill sets must be continually updated.

It is therefore our role to identify employees with less than optimal skills.

We develop processes to continually increase employee learning, knowledge, and skill development, while minimizing the amount of time that employees are away from their work.

Effective communications and feedback reduce errors and frustration — a lack of communications can frustrate employees and make them feel unimportant.

On the other end as seen in many Malaysian industry scenes failing to provide effective feedback can lead to wasted efforts, increased error rates, and lower productivity.

As such communications and feedback mechanisms need to be developed in conjunction with employees to ensure that they fit both the needs of the manager and the employees.

Providing the right information improves decision-making — managers and employees need access to all relevant information and data in order to be productive and to make effective decisions.

Resourcing Factors

Insufficient budget resources can hamper productivity — even a great team with a great manager will produce lower levels of productivity when with insufficient budget to complete the job.

Technology, tools, and equipment can limit or bolster productivity — even highly trained, motivated, and engaged employees can’t be very productive when they are provided with insufficient tools and equipment to do their job. In an era where technology dominates almost every function, a failure to provide the technology, updates, or sufficient training can dramatically slow productivity.

Miscellaneous Factors

Integration can increase productivity — when business processes operate independently and not in unison, it can inhibit the work flow and increase delays and error rates.

Part of any productivity effort should include integrating interdependent processes, breaking down the silos and barriers, and making interconnected processes appear “seamless” to those involved.

Outside-the-workplace factors — although most factors that impact productivity are internal to the organization, on occasion, employee productivity is negatively impacted by things that happen outside of the firm.

These factors could include changes in employee’s personal life and external economic, social, political, and even weather-related factors. Excellent productivity processes need to be flexible so that they can adjust when these external factors begin to impact individual or team productivity.

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One final word!

Managing workforce productivity involves accepting responsibility for optimizing the ROI (return on investment) for labor expense, just as other functions do for their activities.

While some in HR would argue that it is the manager’s role to increase productivity, it is safe to assume that managers are not experts, nor are they knowledgeable about how to do so.

No one in any organization has complete control or a monopoly over these factors, but we as HR practitioners can use its well-known relationship-building and persuasive skills to “influence” those outside their direct span of control.

Lets get started!

                           

Consumerist: Al Jazeera’s Murder In Malaysia – A Malicious & Unkind Cut Against Najib & Razak!

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‘But, what it is – that is motivating this recent spin – a ‘political black hand’, the desperate act of a criminal, a coward in fact, who runs away to a foreign land and seeks asylum on the pretext of being innocent, one who was found guilty by the nation’s highest courts to have, shot and assisted in the blowing up of a defenseless individual and noncombatant, in what was a decision by the duo on that fateful night but now using ‘third parties’ and the media to conduct a blackmail, hoping the pressure exerted at a time the premier is under siege on numerous fronts politically, will reap multi millions and to those support a piece of the monies?’

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Consumerist: Al Jazeera’s Murder In Malaysia – A Malicious & Unkind Cut Against Najib & Razak!

I have no issues, if, Al Jazeera wants to do a special feature on the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu!

I have no issues, if, it is done with the information and data available in a case that has gone straight to the country’s highest court – the Federal Court!

As someone who had held a ‘watching brief’, on a personal basis as the nation’s lead consumer advocate following each and every proceeding and whose presence is known to all stakeholders in the process, I am aware of the entire proceedings!

However, what I despise most is the manufacturing evidence, or attempting to conduct, another trial by media with a political motive or for ratings and giving in to faceless spokespersons and innuendos, who say things that were never in the onset issues in court proceedings!

The facts are clear – two men were found guilty of this heinous crime, and, how they carried out that crime is in countless court transcripts and cautioned statements!

Two men both opposites, but together a strange and highly inflammable cocktail, carried out a killing, a crime most foul, which according to court documents were never sanctioned by any quarter!

To now attempt to speculate, spin and reenact bringing, in ingredients and players, and accounts which were never in the script is malicious and should be rejected!

To attempt to link, what is a straight forward murder most foul by trying to link or involve it to the highest office in the land is regretted, and, worst, to attempt to state that it was Abdul Razak Baginda who pulled the trigger on that frightful night of October 2006 is even preposterous a blatant lie!

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Those like me, who know both men in a personal capacity, know these allegations are most foul and unfortunate and initiated with a political agenda in mind and aided and abetted by shenanigans of all kinds, shapes and colors!

Each and every with a motive of blackmail?

Both Najib and Razak Baginda are gentlemen of many kindness and generosity!

I find it rather hard to believe both men whom I know to so well to be associated with anything as foul as this!

It is hilarious!

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But, what it is – that is motivating this recent spin – a ‘political black hand’, the desperate act of a criminal, a coward in fact, who runs away to a foreign land and seeks asylum on the pretext of being innocent, one who was found guilty by the nation’s highest courts to have, shot and assisted in the blowing up of a defenseless individual and noncombatant, in what was a decision by the duo on that fateful night but now using ‘third parties’ and the media to conduct a blackmail, hoping the pressure exerted at a time the premier is under siege on numerous fronts politically, will reap multi millions and to those support a piece of the monies?

And Al Jazeera has just been used as a conduit in what to me is the greatest attempted con of the century?

I will have a conversation with dear friends, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi and the IGP to immediately send a protest to Australia on this matter.

Certainly, in view of the manner the report came out and the perception it creates should be probed under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code related to “statements with the intent to cause, or is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public.”

                           

Consumerist: Is There Really Governance At Work Or Is It All A Farce?

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Consumerist: Is There Really Governance At Work Or Is It All A Farce?

We are repeatedly told that governance is the catch word of industry, politicians, and most stakeholders in today’s society!

Whether they are committed to it or not is entirely another thing!

But what is governance?

Some define it as the deliberate and conscious management of regime structures for enhancing the public realm.

Governance can be viewed from social, political and economic perspectives.

Indeed, good governance is pivotal to the development process.

As I stated earlier development linked governance has been an issue much debated in the contemporary world.

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And thanks to the stakeholders and crusaders of the term ‘governance’, it has taken a much wider meaning and is no longer restricted to ‘rule’ or ‘administration’ but is used in a broader sense to imply the manner in which power is exercised.

Since power can be exercised in any manner as desired, certain principles would be required in order to judge whether the discourse of the power has been made as per certain standards and norms.

But I also believe such judgment can be based on several criteria and among them the theater where it is played notably:

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1. participation of citizens,
2. upholding the rule of law,
3. transparency of the system,
4. responsiveness of the authority,
5. consensus oriented policy,
6. equity and inclusiveness of the policy,
7. accountability of the system, and
8. strategic vision of the authority.

My late grandfather, an educationist and also a peer to the founding fathers and the first two Malaysia premiers always told me during our quiet moments as I grew up that at the end of the Cold War era, the term ‘good governance’ came into circulation which signified the prescriptions by donor agencies for carrying out economic and political reforms by the recipient countries.

At that age he put it simply and this young mind had difficulty understanding it.

But today the issue of governance is all over and even a prescription included in international donor agencies as ‘a condition’ and were expected to be met with compliance if one wants donations!

And today even the World Bank defines good governance as –

“..the one epitomized by predictable, open, and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs. Poor governance (on the other hand) is characterized by arbitrary policy making, unaccountable bureaucracies, un-enforced or unjust legal systems, the abuse of executive power, a civil society unengaged in public life and widespread corruption.”

But sadly and in all honesty – is there really governance practiced in our society. the manner it was to be?

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Or have we bastardized that term. making it fashionable and cosmetic, and indeed do the opposite, when effective check and balances are wiped out in societies engagement and public policy deliberations?

And when we fear and feel no shame, in the continued wrongs we do in the name of governance?