UMW’s say in CSR

  • Business
  • Saturday, 18 Apr 2009

AS a responsible corporate body, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd has always been driven towards creating a better quality of life for all through its corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives.

President Kuah Kock Heng says incorporating sustainability practices into its daily operations is part of the company’s long-term strategy to grow the company and to be recognised as more than just a provider of cars.

“Our commitment towards CR is based on the Toyota Guiding Principles, which were laid down by Toyota’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, and codified in 1935. The philosophy behind the principles is to improve the quality of life and contribute positively to the society in which Toyota operates its business,” he tells StarBizWeek.

UMW Toyota, through its five-year joint effort with the Road Safety Council, Transport Ministry and Education Ministry, has been promoting road safety amongst primary school children.

Kuah says the programme has grown from strength to strength since it was initiated in 2006.

“The first year was focused on creating awareness. In 2007, we initiated the Traffic Warden Programme, whereby the Road Safety Council trained over 1,000 school traffic wardens nationwide.

“To date UMW Toyota has sponsored uniforms to 3,000 schools nationwide,” he says, adding that a series of roadshows are also held across six states to promote road safety.

Last year, the Traffic Heroes Club, a nationwide club for schoolchildren to learn about road safety and participate in activities designed to test their knowledge of road safety, was launched.

“The concept of the Traffic Heroes Club is that it is website-driven, but will feature national-level gatherings and conventions at least once a year, as well as school visits.

“The Traffic Hero, the club’s official mascot, represents a super hero who fights traffic offences and prevents accidents from occurring,” Kuah says.

Targeted at primary school children, “members” of the club will have access to a variety of online games, competitions, blogs or forums and an online comic strip on the adventures of “Traffic Hero”, according to Kuah.

Members from around the country will be able to communicate with each other through blogs and forums, by posting comments and short stories on road safety. To date, there are more than 4,000 members.

UMW Toyota will be organising school visits next month, which will involve road safety-related demonstrations, games and activities. The Traffic Hero will also be present at the respective schools, Kuah says.

UMW Toyota has also initiated several activities to promote the environment, such as its Toyota Eco Youth (TEY) programme.

Conceived in 2001, it is a joint effort between UMW Toyota and the Education Ministry to cultivate environmental awareness and encourage respect for the environment among youth in secondary schools.

The TEY is an annual six-month long event, based on an inter-school competition concept.

Sixteen secondary schools, selected from a list of schools compiled by the Education Ministry, will each send a team to this competition.

After being tasked with identifying an environmental problem within their respective school compounds, the teams then need to analyse the causes of the problem.

“They would need to provide suggestions to overcome the problems and ensure the results achieved are sustainable,” Kuah says.

Since 2001, UMW Toyota’s TEY programme has benefited a total of 113 schools with over 900 students. Kuah says the TEY programme has also been adopted in other countries, such as Indonesia and Japan.

Another environment-based CR initiative is the Toyota Eco Rangers programme, which is undertaken in collaboration with Yayasan Anak Warisan Alam and supported by the Education Ministry.

Initiated in 2008, the programme involves 23 selected schools in the Klang Valley which will each plant 100 trees within their school compounds and surrounding locations.

This programme will culminate in an awards ceremony later this year to recognise the schools that have successfully maintained their planted trees during the period (leading up to the awards).

As an organisation that is always willing to lend a helping hand to the needy, UMW Toyota – through its annual Toyota Classics – has been hosting world class orchestras, with the proceeds benefiting orphanages, drug rehabilitation centres, the National Cancer Society, old folk’s homes, welfare homes and even hospices.

The New York Symphonic Ensemble, the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, the National Chamber Orchestra of Toulouse and the Royal Swedish Chamber Orchestra are among some of the world-renowned orchestras that have performed at the Toyota Classics.

The Toyota Classics is the longest-running of all of UMW Toyota’s CR programmes. Since its inauguration in 1990, over RM5mil has been collected through ticket sales and donations, benefiting over 40 charitable organisations.

For the past three years, UMW Toyota has invested more than RM9mil on CR-related projects and initiatives.

“This investment has benefited the stakeholders as well as the communities in which we operate,” Kuah says.

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