Back to work!

  • Economy
  • Saturday, 15 Sep 2018

MALAYSIA is less competitive now vis-a-vis our Asian neighbours because we have too many public holidays. Malaysians love to de-stress by taking holidays and normally need to have additional rest days to recover from a tiring holiday.

Everybody wants to have a better quality of life, a good balance between work and play. Spend more quality time with family, enjoy their hobbies and yes, deserve higher pay to cover a higher cost of living.

Great for the workers. Nightmare for the business owners.

So if Malaysia wants to be a competitive tiger again, the whole nation need to revive the “back to work” culture. Work hard and work smart.

If productivity increases by 30% then the pay and incentives can increase by a similar amount. I believe the private sector manages staff productivity very well hence a sustainable and healthy staff costs to revenue model.

It is the public sector and the poor performing GLC’s that has dragged down our average productivity per working person. We can add in the rent seekers who does not need to work for their money and there are so many of them residing all over the country. Thirty years of poor allocation of resources has probably caused a 30% decline in national productivity per head count.

If you walk into a government office, you will probably see an active front office operation if they offer services to the public like immigration etc.

Go behind the counter and you will see redundancy of at least 30%. One out of three yakking away or three persons doing one person’s job or people working at snail pace losing at least 30% in productivity and efficiency.

In the recent Future of Bumiputera Congress, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated the same message he did some 30 years ago, bumiputras must change their mindset, work harder or they will fall behind other races.

He added that there will be no more easy free lunches for those given free AP’s, licences and contracts. They will have to work for their money.

If I read correctly, free lunches will still be given but you have to work hard to earn easy money. His message to the bumiputra community – Back to work, do real productive work and don’t depend on easy government handouts.

Dr M also mentioned that political reality necessitates the continuation of The Malay Agenda as Malays form the largest vote bank. You can’t fault the politicians for wanting to stay in power forever.

Then you have the ludicrous politicians from the opposition harping on protecting Malay rights and religion and the danger of DAP and Christians taking over the country.

The political reality is that Malay leaders from the other side is in charge of the country and we have a DAP Finance Minister busy catching thieves and trying to balance the books. Delusional and outdated politicians harping on fake hypothesis.

In another interview, Dr M mentioned that he was not happy with the performance of his Cabinet ministers.

No free rides for current ministers of the day. After the euphoria of a successful general election, they are reminded by Dr M that they should get back to work, earn their keep and not just keep spewing out rhetorics of promises that they can’t keep. Anyway it is difficult to find politicians anywhere in the world who keep their promises.

I empathise with Dr M. As a small business owner, I have limited choices in hiring the best people for the job, simply because my staff cost to (small) revenue is not economically feasible. Dr M was given a list of inexperienced and naive candidates to join his cabinet.

Now he has a Education Minister who wants to be President of IIUM. Rather than focusing on fixing a broken education system, he wants to build IIUM to be the next “Oxford” Islamic University. Profound. Truly profound.

Most voters would like to know his plans for fixing our dysfunctional education system. Maybe Cambridge standards? Please get back to work Dr Maszlee Malik and try to focus on the job at hand.

Many voters who voted in the Pakatan Harapan government are getting impatient at the slow progress made on the promises made during the elections. To be fair, Dr M and his team have progressed on many fronts.

The rule of law is slowly but surely being reinstalled. The judiciary is moving in the right direction to being an independent institution. MAAC has been given its reinforced dentures back so that it can finally bite again. But perhaps too much to chew on since corruption was so rampant.

Discipline is being enforced across the civil service with productivity and integrity being the KPI of the day. Recalcitrant civil servants who are obedient to the last regime have been removed and replaced.

The Attorney General Chambers (AGC) has been putting forth literally its best man forward to handle the politically sensitive cases so that justice can be served without fear or favour.

And in cases where the AGC lacks talent and integrity in their staffing, experienced barristers/ex judges have been roped in to help out.

Freedom of the press is back in play and the government of the day is listening to its critics who offer constructive criticisms. Media companies controlled by opposition parties are still allowed to operate. Online social media is not curbed. The fourth estate is alive and humming.

Dr M has been brilliant in handling all the dubious major infrastructure contracts by taking a tough stance to avoid further major leakages.

Like all good neighbours, China and Singapore have consented to postpone the various projects without major compensation from us.

All in all, the Pakatan government has made tremendous progress in their first 100 days and restored our faith that the country is moving in the right direction.

The next 1000 days should be our concern now. How will Dr M solve the three big “elephant in the room” problems of education, religious extremism and his so called monstrous GLC dilemma?

Now that he has become chairman of Khazanah, will he start unraveling the role of GLC’s and indirectly reduce the involvement of government in business? Will Malaysian Airlines be sold to stop the bleeding from our national coffers or will it be kept for national pride?

To the non-bumiputera voters, be glad that the country is moving in the right direction again. Political reality dictates that problems on race and religion will take time to resolve, possibly into the next generation.

Maybe this Pakatan government might soon organise a Future for Malaysians Congress?

It will be interesting to hear from Dr M and/or Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on their ideas of how they intend to build a future Malaysia that is inclusive for Malaysians of different race and religion.

Until then, enjoy your extended holidays since Monday is another public holiday.

Come Tuesday, please get back to work and be productive... for the nation’s sake!

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Business , Tan Thiam Hock


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