Monday, October 31, 2011

PAGE: Listen to parents' plea, Govt urged

Sourced from here-

The online plea from tens of thousands of people shows that the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy needs to be re-looked, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE).
Its chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said there was a huge support for the policy to continue on the Facebook group “1M Malaysians say YES to PPSMI as an OPTION”, as well as related blogs and websites.
The Facebook group has registered over 94,000 people as at 8.30pm yesterday.
Noor Azimah said she acknowledged the concern expressed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over the lack of proficient English teachers.
“However, teachers should be able to teach in both languages as they have been teaching the subjects in English since the introduction of PPSMI in 2003,” she said.
Noor Azimah said that if the number of schools that chose English was small, then it would be easier to provide the teachers.
She added that the reasons should be addressed head-on and not swept under the carpet.
PAGE has also started a “Yes to PPSMI option” on its website.
PAGE will be handing an appeal letter on the matter to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at his office in Putrajaya today, and the movement urged parents to turn up for support.
Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah said Muhyiddin should have called for a discussion with JMM and PAGE before making a final decision.
“We (JMM and PAGE) are not doing this for personal interest, but for all parents in Malaysia,” he said.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said that while she did not deny the importance of English, there would be many constraints in having a dual system in schools.
“Implementing both the Uphol-ding Bahasa Melayu and Strengthening the English Language (MBM-MBI) policy; as well as PPSMI, in schools would involve massive cost and a lot of changes to the school structure.
“I support the fact that we have to enhance English proficiency among our students, but in this case, we have to look at the statistics and feedback from the ground which shows that not all children can cope with learning Science and Maths in English,” she said.

PAGE warns BN of polls backlash from PPSMI snub

Sourced from here-

Barisan Nasional (BN) risks losing votes in upcoming polls if it continues barring students from learning science and maths using English in schools, a parents lobby group said today.
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) wants the 10-year-old policy of teaching science and maths in English at national schools (PPSMI) to be made an option for students in primary and secondary schools.
“If it is political (decision on PPSMI) give us the PPSMI option in national primary and secondary schools, and we will give you the two-thirds majority, which you are making increasingly difficult for us to do.
“Do not make us give the opposition our vote,” said PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said in a statement to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.
“We would not like the Najib administration to be remembered for abolishing PPSMI, for not regaining the two-thirds majority and for making our children yet another lost generation,” she said bluntly.
Noor Azimah stressed that the government’s past decision in introducing PPSMI in schools was not “flawed”, adding it would empower students with the skills and knowledge needed to compete with other countries should the policy be retained.
She criticised Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for saying yesterday that the education system will turn chaotic if parents were allowed to freely choose the medium of instruction for their children.
Calling it “unacceptable”, Noor Azimah charged that all science and mathematics teachers should be able to teach in either Bahasa Malaysia or English as the PPSMI policy had previously been in place for nine years.
“If the number of schools that choose English are small, then it would be even easier to provide the teachers. The reasons should be addressed head-on and not swept under the carpet after spending RM3 billion of the rakyat’s hard earned income. We want an explanation,” she said.
Noor Azimah said that the current education system only divided children according to race-based schools, a split that was slowly incorporating class differences as seen in the growing popularity of private and international schools.
She stressed that PPSMI was not about learning English through science and mathematics, but to provide the context to put the language into practise.
Opposition parties like the DAP have thrown their weight behind PAGE’s cause, demanding the Education Ministry be more flexible and give students the option which will enable the country to retain its best talents.
The growing row over the education policy has split the country along racial, political lines ahead of national polls likely to be called early next year.
Vocal fundamental groups are using the issue to champion their version of nationalism.
Several non-partisan civil societies have recently banded together to counter this tide but the powerful Malay-dominant political parties appear to be reluctant to commit to this hot potato issue ahead of the 13th general election.
Noor Azimah said that PAGE will be sending a letter of appeal to Najib on the matter tomorrow morning in Putrajaya.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PAGE hits back: Don't twist the facts for "political expediency"

Sourced from here-

Written by  Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim , PAGE

GMP (Gabungan Mansuhkan PPSMI), led by PAS members is pushing the Government to stand firm on abolishing PPSMI (The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English) yet again, and claiming that only 3% of pupils benefited from PPSMI.
Evidence to support the continuance or abolishment of PPSMI, should be based on the achievements in UPSR, PMR and SPM. That should be the benchmark. The test results of these three national examinations, proved to be very encouraging, clearly supporting the continuance of PPSMI while contradicting all statements that have been brought against PPSMI.
Results are telling
Bear in mind that PPSMI started in 2003. Let’s evaluate the results.
UPSR chart – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2001 – 2009, SK & SJK (Source: The Millenium Development Goals 2010)
a)       Science and Mathematics passes were the highest in 2007, but took a dip in 2008 then picked up again in 2009, at the same level of 2007. The lowest result in Science and Mathematics was in the year 2001, when Science and Mathematics were still in Bahasa Malaysia.
b)       The best achievement in English was in the year 2008, and the trend is on the incline ever since the start of PPSMI.
c)       In SK Bahasa Malaysia result was constant, showing that PPSMI has no negative effect on Bahasa Malaysia. In fact, the highest achievement in Bahasa Malaysia was recorded after the implementation of PPSMI. On the other hand, achievements in Bahasa Malaysia in vernaculars schools (Chinese & Tamil) show a declining trend from year 2006/2007.

PMR chart – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2001 – 2009, SK and SJK (Source: The Millenium Development Goals 2010)
a)       PMR results were the most affected by the PPSMI switch. It showed a dip in the early years of PPSMI in all main subjects except English; however the trend showed improvement from 2007 onwards for Science and Mathematics
b)       English improved, evident in year 2003 -2009 with PPSMI in operation. Bahasa Malaysia remained constant throughout.
SPM charts – Passes in BM, English, Science and Mathematics 2004 – 2010, Rural & Urban students (Source: MOE)

a)       In Science, the rural students constantly outperformed the urban students throughout the seven-year trend. Clearly the rural students were able to cope with PPSMI contrary to the perception that rural students do not fare well with PPSMI. The highest achievement in Science recorded in the year 2008 by the rural students.
b)       In Mathematics, the rural students were beginning to show improvements from the year 2008 onwards. The best percentage increment took place between the year 2009 and 2010, recorded by the rural students. The best performance by rural students was in 2010. The urban-rural gap showed narrowing trends with the 2010 performance.
c)       In English, both the urban and rural students showed improvement throughout the years, best performance in 2010.
d)       In Bahasa Malaysia, both urban and rural students were at par with each other. The results were constant throughout the seven year trend. It suffers no damage under PPSMI.
English works even for Rural students
PPSMI is working, even for the rural students. That is the conclusion that can be derived from the three examination results under the PPSMI policy. They all showed improvements in English, no reduction in Bahasa Malaysia, and improvements in Science and Mathematics in the last few years.
GMP has joined the bandwagon because they have nothing to lose to push for the abolishment of PPSMI. It is good for them since the parents who cannot get PPSMI could ironically vote for PAS at the coming election.
Parents with national school going children and concerned citizens must come together to ensure that their voices are heard. It is not about politics. It is about the children, and parents want what is best for their children. The Education Act 1996 stipulates that “pupils are to be educated according to the wishes of their parents”, not teachers, not principals, not PTAs and most definitely, not politicians or deluded national language linguists.
This may well be our last ditch attempt to urge the government to offer the PPSMI option to parents who want their children to continue with it indefinitely. Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) urges all parents who support PPSMI to speak up NOW. Parents should do the right thing in the name of their children and the future.
In large numbers, parents voice matter. To date we have 100,000 phone numbers of parents who support PPSMI. Make the voices heard for the sake of the children and for the future of this beloved nation. Yes to PPSMI option. Register at .
PAGE is an educational lobbyist that aims to serve as a channel between concerned parents, the Ministry of Education and other educational stakeholders

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Khan Academy

My sister and her American family visited Malaysia during the Summer. Her eldest son, having completed his freshman year, will be entering his sophomore year soon.

He is a top-notch student. In my proud avuncular eyes, he's likely to graduate with a magna cum laude or. at the very least, summa cum laude.

But, he was home-schooled. That intrigued me. So, I interviewed him intermittently.

My nephew said that in the first few months it was tough going because it felt strange to be sitting at home and listen to recorded teaching. Eventually he got used to it.

More importantly, I asked him how he got by without any tuition (a popular past time for young Malaysians with kiasu parents). He said he relied on the Khan Academy website.

"What?", I thought.

I furtively moved toward the iMac and googled "Khan Academy".

The website and its YouTube video tutorials blew me away. I, later, found out that it also blew Bill Gates away when he also found out that his daughter (I think it was) was also using the Khan Academy's tutorial resources.

Unlike impecunious me, Bill Gates got the Bill and Melinda Foundation to use its considerable resources to provide financial support for the Khan Academy. 

So, back to the story...

I excitedly whispered to my 16-year old son that he should check out the Khan Academy website for video tutorials on any subject that he needed more help on (in addition to the tuition he was getting .... yes, mea culpa my children attend tuition classes too!).

He looked at me impassively and replied that he WAS already using the Khan Academy resources.

Since my son turned 13, I have been having this discomfiting feeling that my stature has shrunk in his eyes from that of a god to a demi-god to a mere human and, now, close to a cretin (probably already one).

Mind you, I'm beginning to surreptitiously listen to specific tutorial topics in the Khan Academy, particularly on areas that I was such a dud on, like geometry, calculus, algebra and other branches of mathematics.

So, those of you who have school-going children may wish to get them to check out the Khan Academy website

And, no, there is no upper-age limit. So, you, too, can get on it and learn something!


Monday, October 17, 2011

What ails the GLCs?

I have been reading all the chatter about GLCs (both Malaysian and elsewhere) and their travails. Many who take a macro view are peeved that GLCs, being large corporations with the backing of sovereign governments, have an inside track to plum projects and deals. These inside tracks and opportunities have a perceived cost because they are done at the expense of depriving privately held corporations (as opposed to those that have government or statutory shareholding ownership) of the opportunity to bid for the plum projects and deals.

Another peeve is that GLCs are often in serious and earnest asset-shuffling mode. Often, these asset-shuffles aka "mergers and acquisitions", result in 1+1=1 instead of 1+1=3 or more in value creation. In other words, there are seldom any true synergistic benefits arising post-merger or acquisition.

Truth be told, this applies not just to GLCs, but also to many large corporations.

There are many examples of these disastrous corporate exercises. The Time Warner and AOL deal is probably the all-time classic example. Closer to home, the example would be the great Sime Darby merger.

So, here we have 2 basic issues-

First, the allegation that GLCs "crowd out" the private sector.

Second, GLCs are merely shuffling assets and playing a game of stacking numbers i.e. shuffling assets and cashflows between and amongst different corporate entities to produce a financial result that shows higher profits and greater valuations.

The first issue is obvious. So, I'll just leave it there.

The second issue is more interesting to me. Let's try to taxonomise them.

I see 2 types of large publicly-listed corporations, GLC or privately-held.

Type A is a corporation that thrives on asset-shuffling and, mergers and acquisitions.

There are 2 kinds of Type A corporations.

Type A-1, are corporations that conduct asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions within a clearly defined core business. These corporations try not to stray outside their field of expertise. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is a good example of this. That said, News Corp screwed up big time with Myspace, acquiring Myspace's parent company, Intermix Media for USD500 million in 2005 and recently selling it for a paltry USD35 million. Nevertheless, the constant asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions give market investors paroxysms of orgasmic highs and cold turkey lows. It's a combination of thrills and fear. Like riding on a roller-coaster.

Type A-2, are corporations that conduct asset-shuffling, mergers and acquisitions with an assortment of businesses. There are many Malaysian privately-held corporate groups that do this. I shall not name them. And, then, there are the institutions that own the GLCs such as Khazanah Nasional and PNB.

Type B corporations are more honest-to-goodness, stick-to-what-you-know-and-grow types. Apple is, of course, the sexy example.  Another is IBM. 

Most of the criticism is levelled at Type A-2. 

The key issue is how well the drivers of corporate deals understand the core business of these corporations.

Throughout the world, not just in Malaysia - many, many large corporations, not just GLCs - are now led by finance men. These are numbers-crunchers. These are people who only look at numbers and how they stack together. These people do not see businesses, business history or people. They only see numbers. They are like the evil twin of Neo in the Matrix Trilogy.

Why is this a concern?

Well, the concern is that these finance men do not know how to manage core operations. Many of them don't believe that it is necessary for them to learn business operations. Many of them believe that the numbers are all that matter.

What is the market share today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected market share in the next quarter?

What is the pre-tax profit today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected pre-tax earnings in the next quarter?

What are the trade receivables today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected collections in the next quarter?

What is the inventory today? How does it compare with the last quarter? What is the projected inventory in the next quarter?

Reams of excel spreadsheets are generated. Lots of score cards are prepared. Numbers. Digits. Plus. Minus. Percentages.

To be fair, the same questions that the finance men ask are equally asked by business leaders who worked their way up from operational ranks. 


But, the comprehension and insight offered by these numbers differ markedly between the finance men and the business leaders who were involved in the core business - whether from the production side or the sales department.

I have nothing against finance men. Some turn out to be great business leaders. Many others turn out to be the investors' greatest nightmare.

It may be that the excessive presence of finance men - who have no clue about the core business, the human capital in these businesses and the future potential of the businesses - is the factor that ails the GLCs.

I may be wrong. 

But, I don't think I am.

The remedy?

Don't discard willy-nilly the homegrown career managers. Give them a fair shake at leading the core businesses.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Malaysians Say "YES" To PPSMI

I received the message below from PAGE Malaysia. Please support this worthy cause to alert the Malaysian Government and, in particular, the Ministry of Education that it must respect the rights of Malaysian parents on the choice of PPSMI-

Dear parents and friends,

The quality of Malaysian education has deteriorated to an alarming level, with our schools and local universities churning out TOO MANY unemployable graduates who possess a severe lack of ability to communicate or correspond in English despite numerous A's scored in examinations, and producing ‘professionals’ of worryingly poor calibre especially in the fields of science and mathematics.

The former Prime Minister took steps to rectify the situation by implementing the policy of English for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics and Science (Malay acronym: PPSMI) in 2003. The policy was fully embraced by the Government of the day, and ICT, hardware and software were acquired and designed and teachers were trained. Parents were greatly relieved that finally something concrete was being done to arrest the decline of the Malaysian education system.

Shortly after that, the general election was held and a new minister took over the Education Minister’s portfolio.

Shockingly, after only 6 years of implementation, without even allowing the first cohort of students who started with PPSMI in Primary 1 to complete the full cycle of schooling, the new Education Minister decided to abolish PPSMI in 2012, mainly for political reasons, despite
  • huge public outcry and protests from parents and students alike;
  • a massive number of letters and articles in newspapers and cyberspace from people in support of PPSMI, far outnumbering those against PPSMI;  
  • support for PPSMI from various professional bodies, business concerns and numerous concerned groups both local and international; and
  • solid evidence that PPSMI has improved student outlooks and is advantageous for the future of our children and the country.

The Education Minister has IGNORED the pleas of parents and has blatantly disregarded the provision of the Education Act 1996 which stipulates that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

The world is moving forward but yet Malaysia is going backward. We are going to remain stagnant in terms of progress and development.

Students in Form 1 next year will have to study Mathematics and Science in Bahasa Melayu after learning these subjects in English in primary school. Worse, for those who are going to Form 4, after learning Maths and Science in English for 9 years, they will be forced to switch to Bahasa Melayu for 2 years and then back again to English for their tertiary education!

Parents and friends, enough is enough. We are the Rakyat. The days of ‘the Government knows best’ are OVER! A democratic government must abide by the wishes of the majority.

We believe the majority of parents in Malaysia would choose PPSMI for their children if given the option. Unfortunately many choose to remain silent. Why? WE MUST MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD! Our numbers must be significant so that the Minister has no choice but to heed our wishes!


If you want your children’s school to be given the option of continuing PPSMI in 2012, attached is a simple form for you to REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT. It will take only a few minutes of your time to fill in. We urge you to register immediately as 2012 is just around the corner.

Please also help to forward the email to as many people as possible.

Please be assured that all information you provide will be carefully guarded and we will take great care to ensure that your personal information remains confidential.

Thank you for showing that you care about your children's future AND the future of Malaysia!

Parent Action Group for Education (1266-10-WKL)pagemalaysia@gmail.comwww.pagemalaysia.orgFor Our Children. Demi Anak Kita

-- PAGE Parent Action Group for Education (1266-10-WKL)pagemalaysia@gmail.comwww.pagemalaysia.orgFor Our Children. Demi Anak Kita

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Referendum on PPSMI (updated)

I wish to offer my congratulations and my wholehearted support to PAGE and JMM for their joint call upon the Government to hold a nationwide referendum on whether PPSMI should be reversed.

Think about it. This proposal de-politicises the whole PPSMI issue.

No political party will win.

Only the rakyat wins.

Is that a bad thing?
Sourced from The Star-

Two groups are calling for a referendum to determine if there is enough public support for the option of having Science and Mathematics taught in English in schools.
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) and Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) are appealing to the Education Ministry to consider the voices of parents who want the option to have PPSMI in schools.
PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said this at a joint press conference with JMM president Azwanddin Hamzah yesterday.
The PPSMI policy was initiated by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and implemented in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassinannounced in 2009 that the Government would reverse the PPSMI policy and revert to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools; and Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools, while more emphasis would be placed on English.
However, he said in August that the Government was keeping its options open on the matter.
Noor Azimah said to date, PAGE had handed over six memorandums three each to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin but added she had not received any reply.
Noor Azimah said a letter requesting to meet with Najib was handed to him in late August, appealing to the Prime Minister to intervene in the long-standing issue.
Azwanddin said JMM and PAGE were not asking for a change in the official language.
“We are only asking for our children to be given the opportunity to study Science and Mathematics in English,” he said.
Noor Azimah said parents wanted their children to be educated according to their wishes as stipulated in the Education Act 1996.
She said students heading into Form One in national secondary schools in January next year were the ones most affected by the policy reversal.
Noor Azimah advised parents whose children will go to Form Four next year to urge principals to continue with PPSMI in their schools.
“It should be the parents who decide on the medium of instruction, not the principals.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PPSMI - An election issue?

If ever there was even the remotest possibility of the existence of a Silent Majority, it would have to be Malaysian parents whose children are in the Primary and Secondary schools that are subjected to the National Syllabus.

Education is a perpetually hot issue in every country anywhere in the world. Malaysia is no different.

The Education Ministry has sought to offer free text books. Under the 2012 Budget, it is seeking to remove school fees. All these, in an effort to pander to parents.

In the life of Malaysian parents, we wear many hats, of course. At work, we wear one hat. With friends, we wear another hat. 

Surely the most important hat that we wear must be that of a parent to school-going children.

Children are a constant reminder to parents that there is a need to protect the future. The future of our children are the future of Malaysia. Malaysian children embody the future of Malaysia. They personify the Malaysian future.

So, it is not hyperbole when I say that I am angry with the Minister of Education. Yes, I'm very angry.

When Najib ascended to the Prime Ministership of Malaysia he was quoted as saying that the era of Government knows best is over.

Obviously the Minister of Education didn't read about it. Or, maybe he doesn't believe that statement to be true. Possibly, he thinks the Prime Minister was making a lighthearted, jocular remark. Maybe he doesn't care what that statement was intended to mean.


The fact is that the position of the Minister of Education is that PPSMI is a policy that will be revoked.

This is the thing that pisses me off.

WHY was a policy change made, in the wake of a strong electoral message in 2008, without prior consultation with all stakeholders in Malaysia's Primary and Secondary education?

WHY was the consultation restricted to some doctrinal and dogmatic and myopic few, whoever they may be?

There is recent evidence to show that so-called experts or academics in Malaysia are wobbly in their reasoning. An immediate example would be the Council of Professors who declared that Malaysia was never colonised. They did not understand the difference between a de jure position and a de facto reality. 

Were these some of the people that the Ministry of Education consulted with in deciding to reverse the PPSMI?

The revocation of the policy on PPSMI is, to my mind, a clear and unequivocal sign that the ruling coalition or, at the very least, the Minister of Education, believes that the "Government knows best" philosophy is still the way to go. 

I, for one, am making PPSMI an election issue.

In this coming GE13, I am voting as a PARENT.

I'm not going into the polling booth with any other hats. I'll only be wearing the hat of a PARENT.

I can only hope that the rest of the Silent Majority of PARENTS (and all other concerned Malaysian voters) will do likewise.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When is enough, enough?

When you're already a tycoon the acquisition of additional assets is a mere intellectual challenge in a game where winners are measured objectively in the form of dollar value.

The problem arises when in chasing for superlative success in this game the tycoon's normally excellent judgment is clouded by the hunger to beat out the competition and grab the trophy.

And, suddenly, unwittingly(?), the line is crossed.

In the test of character, it is a fail.

In the measure of success, it is still a win because the desperate moves that crossed the line from being competitive and skillful to one who is felt to use underhand tactics that crosses the legal line, still results in the increase of net worth in dollar terms.

Sadly, in ethical and moral terms it means bankruptcy.

Which is to be treasured? High net worth in dollar terms? Or, high regard and a sterling reputation to take to the grave?

Which is better? The ignominy of being the richest S.O.B. who ever lived? Or, to be the greatest pillar of integrity that is held up forever as the ultimate role model of business leadership?

These are questions that should haunt those of us who have any pretension of ambition.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A "sweet" Budget 2012

I will say this, Najib is nimble.

Big Dog has declared it an Election Budget. I am in agreement. The Budget contains a lot of sweets for many categories of Malaysians; from the civil servants to parents.

The fact that the "kaya" of goodies is spread quite thin must surely be because Treasury is mindful that one of the greatest concerns of financial observers, local and international, is the fiscal deficit. Well, the deficit is not expected to increase in spite of the goodies. In this sense, Najib is nimble.

Neither corporate tax nor personal income tax was touched. This, to me, is a prelude to the expected rollout of the GST after GE13. In this sense, Treasury has to hold the keel steady until more revenues can be extracted from the Malaysian economy when GST is rolled out.

Real Property Gains Tax

The part I quite like is the tweaking of the Real Property Gains Tax. From next year, anyone who buys a piece of property and flips it within 2 years must pay 10% of any gains. If he or she sells the property between 3 to 5 years later, the tax is 5% on any gains. There is no RPGT if the property is sold more than 5 years later.

I like it because a reversion to the much earlier 3-tier structure where the top RPGT rate was 30% is likely to have created a bubble-bursting effect (yes, I believe there is a bubble or, if you like understatement, then, "excessive frothiness" might be a substitute phrase). 

So, this is an attempt to effect a controlled release of air from the property bubble. 

Liberalisation of 17 services subsectors

An interesting matter is that among the 17 sub-sectors that will be liberalised include private hospital services, medical and dental specialist services, architectural, engineering, accounting and taxation, legal services, courier services, education and training services, as well as telecommunication services.

The one subsector that stands out is legal services. This is one sector that has been cloistered forever. The  other one is architecture. These 2 service areas will see major structural changes.

I foresee that the immediate impact is not so much that a lot of foreign lawyers will literally parachute into Malaysia so much as foreign law and architectural brands will become more prominent. They will hire lots of Malaysians and a sprinkling of expat (remember, there's still the issue of work permits...aha!!!).

I see this as a good thing because the work processes for the legal and architecture professions will be immeasurably improved over time.

No, I don't see the loss of too much market share by local players to foreign service providers because, from my observation, foreign service providers are mainly interested to handle international work entering Malaysia in the form of foreign investments, direct or indirect. And, they are also interested in doing work for Malaysian companies investing or exporting overseas. This is their cachet...the international reach. 

Malaysian-based clients can't afford to pay these international firms anyway!

The accounting firms won't feel a thing with this liberalisation because Malaysian accounting firms from Tier-1 to Tier-3 are already under foreign brands and varying legal ownership structures.

Anyway, this move has been a long time coming. Some say, it's overdue.

To borrow Stan Lee's expression, "Nuff said".

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BN: Downsizing to be nimble and true

While most people like to plunge into the rough and tumble of cat-calling and invective of happenstance events such as movies with food themes that contain socio-political commentaries, I find it more useful to examine our key political players for structure and process.

The 3 major components of the BN are facing a spot of bother.

They each have bloated memberships.

I use the word "bloated" most deliberately because, I dare say, two-thirds of their membership are filled with passive "hangers-on" who became members in the hope of material gain.

I have experienced several times, a situation where prior to meetings with certain MCA Ministers, I was asked whether I was a party member. 

Such a question typifies the 3 major BN component parties.

This is based on the paradigm established in the 1980s when BN's hegemony writ large and the patronage game was all the rage.

It is likely that in that era (which may have ended in March 2008), the leadership perception was that a large membership base will guarantee a large base of human capital that can be tapped whenever required.

The question that should rightly haunt BN leaders is, what happened to the millions of members in March 2008?

Malaysia has changed from the times when it was important for political parties to enter into business directly to institutionalise the warchest to fight all future political battles. Such a move is now questioned by all and sundry - from the rarefied air of the corporate suites of GLCs to the warungs.

Malaysia's population has become better educated and, some say, wealthier. And, there is also that Pandora's Box that will never ever close again, the Internet and social media.

Troglodytes in the BN ranks, particularly those in charge of multimedia, see the Internet and social media as a threat. They constantly attack the medium with appalling results. For, the Internet and social media behaves exactly like the mythical Hydra.

So, what to do?

I will provide a simple example that will address both the issue of bloated memberships (and, therefore, the need to downsize) and the strategy to engage the Internet and social media.

Just study the wildly successful Obama Presidential Campaign of 2008. That's the key.

The other is, to slowly pare down the bloated "inventory" that are the passive memberships. 

The third key takeaway should be to discard the treasure chest - yes, discard it by making earnest and sincere gifts of these valuable assets, such as controlling stakes in publicly-listed companies - and makes gifts of them to established and credible non-profit and charitable institutions - give it back to the people, so to speak.

Then and, I believe, only then, can the BN components re-engage the body politic with positive outcomes.

The key is how to engender the spirit of volunteerism in the mass of voters.

There are many, many, many examples of political parties with small membership bases that attract throngs of volunteers in the run-up to each political election - usually young voters - who are attracted to and, buys into the platform and manifesto of the political party in question.

The irony is that it is difficult for BN to find volunteers because everyone called upon by the BN expects to be paid. That used to be a good thing. Post-Match 2008, it's become a shitty situation.

A volunteer internalises the choice to support you. They are invested in you and your cause.

Paid party hacks and their fellow travellers have no heart because they're only in it for the money.

If BN components cannot see the difference, then, they're cooked.

This is a tough and stark choice.