You hold quite a number of important positions in various organisations in the private and public sectors. How do you cope with that? Johnny Lim, KL
Time management is very important.
The support from my colleagues in the various organisations and companies that I am involved in is crucial, just as the support from my loved ones and family members.
I am involved in public and private sector organisations such as FMM, Mida, Matrade, MPC, EPF and USM. I have been blessed with efficient, cooperative and supportive staff in all these organisations. Time management with some level of flexibility enables me to discharge my duties well.
Is Malaysia really losing its competitiveness to other countries in the region? What do you think we should do? Salehuddin Amirul, PJ
Malaysia is ranked 26th among 139 economies in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010 and 21st in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2011.
For Malaysia to compete and be on par with countries like Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the country needs to be committed to implementing the following:
Adopt comprehensively transparent policies and procedures fight corruption, emphasise meritocracy, restore confidence in our institutions particularly judiciary and law enforcement agencies;
Emphasise market-based mechanisms and outcome-based assistance;
Promote innovation and efficient use of resources; and
Strengthen the marketbased economy to attract higher investments and close the gap in levels of industrialisation with our competitors.
We need to further liberalise the economy, especially the services sector, expedite the comprehensive review on labour legislations, address leakages, wastage and inefficient use of public financial resources, introduce more business-friendly policies with respect to foreign talent necessary to move up the value chain and identify effective policies for brain gain.
Who is your role model? What are the qualities that you have learnt from him/her? James Chin, Ipoh
I have always admired Tun Ismail Ali, the first governor of Bank Negara. He was full of wisdom. He was a man of high integrity and was competent. He always upheld sound principles and practised good corporate governance. People who had worked with him described him as a stickler for punctuality and recounted incidents that revealed his disciplined self. He had high expectations of those around him.
Do you think the Government has put in place sufficient incentives to encourage the private sector to improve and move their production processes up the value chain? Ahmad Zin, Shah Alam
Various incentives already exist to accelerate economic activities in promoted areas. However, more needs to be done to enhance investor confidence and increase investments as highlighted earlier. The need to provide a level business playing field that provides equal opportunities and access to government support and programmes, including government procurement and projects, cannot be over-emphasised.
The recent enactment of the Competition Act is expected to support fair and open competition arising from efficiency and effectiveness in creating strategic advantages through innovation, brand loyalty, business relationships and distribution channels. There should be minimum exclusions and exemptions.
A high-tech, high value-added and high-income economy also requires an adequate supply of quality manpower that is competitive, highlyskilled and able to acquire cutting-edge knowledge, giving higher productivity and able to multitask. The education system must benchmark against top educational institutions around the world.
Revamping the education system to be meritbased should also include the following:
Improving the quality of teachers and lecturers;
Reintroducing English as medium of instruction at all levels particularly in science and mathematics;
Maintaining a 60:40 ratio in science and technical vs arts;
Reviewing academic grading system;
Producing employable graduates;
Exercising greater selectivity in granting university status;
Improving rankings among local institutions of higher learning; and
Improving vocational and technical education.
What are the things that you normally do to make your life more interesting apart from work? Paul Smith, KL
Sports, I enjoy golfing. Leisure, I enjoy travelling. Hobbies, I enjoy reading and fashion.
In the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR), I find satisfaction in my contribution to the various alumni activities of USM and the Old Cliffordian Kuala Kangsar of which I am currently the Alumni president.
Consumer rights in Malaysia are being eroded over the years. How can the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) contribute to improve the situation? Bulbir Singh, Seremban
Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that products manufactured are safe, of good quality and in conformity with industry standards. In this respect, FMM has representatives in various standards committee, technical committee (TC) and panels such as Halal Development Corp Advisory Panel, National Codex Committee, National Food Safety Council, TC on safety of audio, video & IT equipments, and a national TC on product recall, etc. FMM, as an industry association, disseminates information on the relevant regulations/Act/directive related to product quality and safety, for example food quality and safety and safety standard for toys, to its members (manufacturers). Standards that apply to locally produced goods should also apply to imports. Currently, imports are not subject to such standards and may be of inferior quality.
Do you think local manufacturers are ready to move up the value chain? Why? Mohan Singh, Klang
A strategic but painful move that manufacturers need to undertake is to reduce dependence on low-skilled workers, including foreign workers, and to invest aggressively in automation, innovation and skills training and upgrading to remain competitive in the challenging global market.
All industries will need to upgrade and acquire more technical and modern skills, especially the SMEs. This is central to moving up the value chain through greater application of technology and innovation. Having strong innovation capabilities and technical skills that can adapt and adopt new technologies will be required by all industries, including SMEs.
FMM believes that the New Economic Model and the Economic Transformation Programme will take the economy to a higher level as long as there is sincere commitment to the realisation of programmes and activities and equal emphasis on transparency, meritocracy and need.
Do you think we can stop the brain drain, and achieve brain gain? How? Siti Nadiah, Malacca
Brain drain is the result of pull and push factors. Pull because of more attractive wage packages and benefits, especially for highly skilled and professional manpower; push because of political and social factors. Measures to curb outflows are as highlighted in response to Question No. 2.
What is the FMM doing in ensuring that the elements of “inclusiveness” and “sustainability” in the New Economic Models are attained during your presidency? Farhana Dzulkifli, Penang
FMM's initiatives in ensuring inclusiveness include consistently calling for a level playing field, meritocracy and greater transparency in policies and procedures in all government policies, especially in the areas of education, government procurement and the like.
We have emphasised the needs of small business, particularly the SMEs, as they make up more than 80% of businesses in Malaysia, such as facilitating and enhancing their access to financial assistance to strengthen their resource capacity, to support their export activities and acquisition of technologies and knowledge.
FMM strongly supports measures to ensure SMEs are efficient, prudent and diligent in their efforts to continually upgrade their skills, to acquire new knowledge, to seek new opportunities, and to expand existing markets. Many SMEs have been growing and expanding their capacity and capabilities and meeting their customers' needs and some have progressed into bigger business operations on their own initiative.
To ensure that women-led businesses receive adequate assistance to grow and expand, FMM has established the Women in Business Committee to provide a platform for such activities.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to face in your career? How did you manage to overcome them? Pushnita Arumugam, Johor
My biggest challenge was when I quit my teaching job in Ipoh at the age of 32, leaving my wife to look after my son and daughter, in order to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Political Science at Universiti Sains Malaysia. It was very challenging and very demanding, balancing my time with the family and study, and at the same time being involved in campus activities. Now I am involved with NGO work to contribute to the industry and the nation.
The other big challenge was to dismiss a colleague of many years for fraud and corruption.
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