Taking stock of misses and successes


AS the year draw to a close, most businesses start to wind down. Big bosses go on family holidays while small bosses are still fighting hard for last minute sales to make the forecast numbers.

Entrepreneurs take this opportunity to take a breather to reflect on the past 12 months of achievement, the misses and the successes.

Most businesses would have revised their forecast numbers for next year as the business climate has taken a turn of uncertainty, with news of global trade tensions and news of local political tensions.

Every year-end of my business life, I would reflect on my organisational needs for the following year. Do I have the right people to help me manage the new challenges of the new year? Should I reshuffle or bring in new replacements?

Political leaders in Malaysia Baru have the most to think about. Depending on which side of the Parliament you are seated, I would pay a penny or two for their thoughts. A penny for those in opposition who are thinking of hopping over and two pennies for those in power who are thinking of accepting them. Honestly, I don’t give a damn what both sides think.

If I am the Prime Minister, I would be worried about how our economy would fare next year. I would reflect on how my hand-picked ministers have performed over the past seven months. Did I make the right choice? Should I keep the same team or should I only keep the performing ministers and replace the incompetent misfits?

In the business and corporate world, hiring the right person for a specific job is one of the toughest decision a CEO has to make, More so if is a high level job. Hence the normal six month probation for every new hire.

Just like every other CEO’s, I have made good hiring decisions and I have made horrendous decisions over the years. The CV looks pretty good, the interview went well. The real performance unfolds over the next six months. I have made a poor decision. Should I keep this person or should I let him go?

Most times, I have deep regrets for keeping that person when I go against my gut instincts of not keeping that person. Usually it is a mismatch of capabilities with the job at hand.

Sometimes the big company experience person is not able to operate in an entrepreneurial set up. Most of the time, it is a mismatch of attitudes and egos. He/She is a misfit in my organisational set-up.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made four important cabinet appointments upon his own appointment as the Prime Minister in May 2019. The Home Affairs, Finance, Defence and Education ministers.

Home Affairs and Defence were the most crucial as taking charge of domestic security was needed to calm the political turmoil in the aftermath of an historic election. Finance was equally important as it controls the cash flow for the entire government. To reflect the importance of the education portfolio, Dr Mahathir appointed himself to the job.

Since it has been more than six months, I believe the probation period is over and Dr Mahathir will be reflecting on the performance of these four key Ministers.

On Home Affairs, despite his medical problems, the highly experienced Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin has shown tremendous guile and skill to take charge of the police force thus ensuring the domestic security. To tackle widespread corruption, he has reformed and empowered MACC to its original independent state.

His handling of nullifying opposition tactics using race and religion shows his experience and deft hands. I would rate him 9/10.

On Defence, Mat Sabu the humble, jovial politician and cook extraordinaire is well liked by his army of new followers. Not much is known of his knowledge on tactical defence manoeuvres but his culinary skills is now well documented and even acknowledged by our noisy neighbours. I would rate him 9/10 for being the most popular politician in the country. No ratings on his performance.

On Finance, minus his (still) opposition style rhetorics, Lim Guan Eng is actually a good and honest accountant. However he needs to understand that an effective Finance Minister extends beyond book keeping and cash flow management duties. As the finance spokesperson of the government, the Finance Minister needs to have finesse in bringing confidence to the business community, calm the financial markets and improve currency strength. I would rate him 8/10.

On Education, since the whole country protested on his own self appointment, Dr Mahathir retreated and chose the little-known lecturer from IIUM, Dr Maszlee Malik as the Education Minister.

The nation awaited anxiously for his school reform ideas, maybe a brilliant education blueprint for the next 30 years or even an inkling of his thoughts on education.

After seven months, the nation is aware that he cares deeply about the colours of school shoes and school buses, saving the lives of school children from drowning at sea or swimming pools and opening petrol stations in higher education campuses. Then this bizarre directive to keep religious teachers from Peninsular in Sabah and Sarawak schools.

Along the way, he accepted the position of President of IIUM despite the legal advice of the government and the cabinet that there is a conflict of interest with his current job. He has not resigned yet despite promising to do so.

After seven months, the nation is still clueless as to any plans for reforms to our school syllabus, the teaching of English or any discussions with other stakeholders and educationist groups.

I would rate him 0/10. My learned friends from the dinner last night says I am too kind as they feel that he should get negative marks. In fact they all agree that like Jose Mourinho, Dr Maszlee should be removed from the team and a suitable replacement be brought in before it is too late.

I believe he is more suited to stay in IIUM and if that is where his heart is, let him be happy. He should step down as the Education Minister.

Dr Mahathir mentioned that his Ministers were not getting due support from the civil servants in their ministries. Perhaps some of his Ministers are incapable of performing their duties or they really have no clue as to what their job entails. It takes two hands to clap.

It would really be interesting for Dr Mahathir to conduct a one-on-one interview with the director-general of each Ministry on their assessment of their immediate boss, the minister. I am sure great stories will surface that will help him assess the performance of his 26 Ministers.

In the meantime, Dr Mahathir should wind down a bit, get some rest and spend some time reflecting on his organisational needs for next year. I rate Tun 10/10 master politician and I know he will make the right moves. I will accept whatever he accepts.... warts, frogs and all.

To all Christians, have a reflective, meaningful and Merry Christmas!

tan thiam hock