02 September 2010

Najib is not 'Bapa Slogan' after all


".... one of 5,000 Kelabits in this whole wide world, made it to become a minister that help change Malaysia... "

hen Dato Seri Najib Razak (Najib) made Prime Minister, the first thing that came to my mind was, hmmm what 'Bapa' should we call him? Tunku had 'Bapa Kemerdekaan', Tun Razak 'Bapa Pembangunan', Tun Hussein 'Bapa Kemakmuran', Tun Mahathir 'Bapa Pemodenan' and Tun Abdullah 'Bapa ?' (Can't remember really). Najib introduced a lot of abbreviations to the extent the public lost track of what they mean. He started with 1Malaysia, NKRA and all sorts of names. I was inclined to call him 'Bapa Slogan' implying a 'talk no walk' scenario but to the contrary, recently, I learnt some facts for which he deserves some credit. He 'walked the talk' via Dato' Idris Jala (Idris).

Idris, one of 5,000 Kelabits in this whole wide world, made it to become a minister. But of course, he was already successful as the Head of Markets for Shell globally stationed in London. Recently, I had the priviledge of hearing his story first hand face to face, and I must say that I am impressed. To all Malaysians, Idris appears to be the one who shouted "Malaysia will go bankrupt" and scares the entire civil service of KPIs to be met. Behind those shouts, he is an achiever, even if it means progressive achievement. I was impressed with what he shared and it's only justice if I share with you here in my blog. So here goes:

Government Transformation Program (GTP) was one of the efforts driven by Najib via Idris and it involves effective methods that produce results as follows:


14,222 policemen were relocated to 50 hot spots where crime rates are high. 3,557 policemen who were doing deskjobs were redeployed to doing actual police work outside the office. He further ranked all the 753 police stations across the nation and of course, if the station is way at the bottom, they'll have to answer and face consequences of some sort. This created competition to perform and concentrates efforts and resources to areas requiring it the most. As a result, Crime rate has reduced by 14%.


There are many highways in the central business district of Petaling and Wilayah Persekutuan. Some are congested and some are underutilised. Many bus routes go through the congested highways. Ya, you have guessed it right,.. change those routes using the underutilised highways such as KESAS. This happened and bus ridership has risen by 38%.


Only 60% of Standard 1 Primary students have been to pre-school. Imagine that! 4 out of 10 7 year olds may not even know how to read A, B, C when they start school. Idris introduced 1,062 pre-schools that housed 13,000 kids. In addition, 7,616 primary schools were ranked based on 3-year composite score of academic and co-curriculum faculties. This created the same effect like what he did to the police stations. Competition improves quality. I really hope that 60% statistic can be increased close to 100%. We shall wait for the outcome. Dato' (Idris), if you are reading this, please respond.


Government spending was increased dramatically by mutiplefold for key development areas namely Roads (10x), Electricity (5x), Housing (2.5x) and Water (7x). (2006-2008 against 2010-2012)


What does hard core poverty means? Well, according to Idris, it means those who does not have enough to eat. Various efforts were put in place such as 1Azam which means 'Akhiri Zaman Miskin' (Ending the Poverty Era). 1Azam consist of many Azams such as Azam Tani for algriculture, Azam Kerja for employment, Azam Khidmat for services, etc. All these with a sole purpose of providing decent jobs to the poor. Every Tuesday at 8pm, Idris and his gang will be around Masjid India giving free food to the homeless and chat with them to understand why they are jobless and homeless. Some are free riders whereby they just couldn't be bothered to work and lives on free food given out by charity workers at churches, mosques, etc. A sad story but Idris did manage to give jobs to many and within 6 months, his team managed to reduce the count of those within the category "not enough food to eat" by 40%.


Asian countries are porpular in this arena and Malaysia is not excluded. Whistleblower Protection regulations were introduced. 3,680 government contracts were published for transparency. 23 politicians were arrested (12 UMNO, 1 DAP and 1 PKR) as proven guilty in various corruption whereby 169 offences have been published at the MACC web site. Ya, the MACC appearances everywhere, such as PKFZ, is a product of this effort.

"... if we don't do it, we only have ourselves to blame..."

Najib and his cabinets meet on monthly basis to discuss all these with the respective government departments, ministries and authorities. Make no mistakes, KPI are being monitored and they are expected to produce results. If they cannot, they are expected to ask for resources and whatever support required to achieve results. So it's a game of "Show result or else, tell me why you couldn't give results". Idris heads the government body PEMANDU as the CEO who facilitates this. PEMANDU meets on weekly basis with those ministries.

Whilst GTP aims to improve the civil service, Idris also embarked on Economic Transformation Policies (ETP). This is driven by 3 main objectives as follows:

1. High Income - USD15,000 to USD20,000 gross national income per capita by 2020.
2. Inclusiveness - All races are given equitable opportunities.
3. Sustainability - Wealth for a long time.

Key economic areas were identified for better focus:

1. Finance
2. Palm Oil
3. Business Services
4. Telecommunication
5. Health
6. Algriculture
7. Oil & Gas
8. Education
9. Tourism
10. Wholesale
11. Retail
12. Greater KL

By 2020, Malaysia is expected to reach 31.6 million population with gross national income per capita of USD16,800. With that kind of size, it will (is) important to have a central business district that is at a world class standard, hence No. 12 Greater KL. Planning is on-going to fit in underground train tube web beneath KL and surrounding urban. High speed rail from Thailand to Singapore via the peninsula will also be explored and River of Life programmme will help clean our rivers.

20% of the monetary requirement will require private investment and this has been committed by private sectors on various projects that will help create over 3.3 million jobs in view of achieving the intended income per capita level mentioned earlier. 87% funding from private sector worth USD237 billion has been planned for the next 10 years.

The private sector has the opportunity to contribute to the country in a more effective fashion unlike in the past where many hurdles discouraged such efforts. For example, strategy wise, it may be counter productive in the past as shown in the electronics industry. Malaysian companies were doing assembly lines where they could have added more value if they had done manufacturing of core products. Another example would be Oil Palm in the terrains where men were used as transporters instead of buffalos. Idris has embarked on raring buffalos to address this.

The government has also committed to procure products and services produced by the private sector such as health equipment rather than importing it. The government has also started on infrastructure projects. One big example is the High Speed Broad Band (HSBB) via grants given to Telekom Malaysia Berhad. Everyone has gone cyber,.. well guess what, talks have started with various parties to spread the use of e-payments, mobile-payments and the like instead of hard cash. With that, fibre optics have been given a 'must' status for all new real estate development enforceable by new By-Laws in place. Internet has reached schools to promote e-Knowledge and e-Learning and the Government themselves have embraced e-Government and e-Healthcare.

Of course these are all only a fraction of what Idris and his team was, is and continue to put efforts on. There are a lot more to be shared had he been given a whole day to talk but in my opinion, this should suffice. Najib has been in power for over a year and hopefully, he will be as good as his father.

Idris Jala ended his presentation quite elegantly by saying "... if we don't do it, we only have ourselves to blame..."

* kopihangtuah

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01 September 2010

Work-Life Balance: A Mythology or Methodology?


"...hence the motherhood statement 'Work-Life Balance' for which some believes to be a mythology rather than a methodology... "

friend asked me a question:
"I have been very2 curious abt this.. I've noticed a sudden SURGE of posts/status updates from you lately, sooo many, much2 more than usual.. what happened to you all of a sudden.. how do you even find the time to do it??? You also work, play music, and write in your blogs too among other things.. it amazes me actually, it really does"

My reply was:
"... :) everyone asks me the same thing. Ok here goes: I go to guitar classes every sunday morning, I accompany my boy for football clinic every saturday morning, I go fine dining with wife once a month and movies or dvd almost every other weekend, I read newspapers and read books 1 hour before sleep every nite, I jog after work 3 times a week, I go swimming with my boy every sunday evening, my wife makes me eat 4 vitamins every day in the morning ie garlic pills, vitamin b, vitamin c and ginkobiloba; blogging has been slow maybe once a month whenever got time at nite, haven't really started on oil painting but once move house with more space I can start hopefully; I still work committedly from 9am to 8pm but that does not stop me from going to gym at 9pm for the jog; maybe 2 nites in a week I don't exercise but instead put my son to bed while teaching ayat quran, and I only manage to pray 4 times a day coz I cannot wake up early and of course, twitting and FB is done via blackberry 24 hours especially in traffic jams and while waiting for my wife to put on make up or while waiting for late comers in the numerous meetings,.... Fuhhh that was exhausting : ) it is an exhausting life but a delightful one I guess. Hope you can do the same with whatever passion u hav in life and share it with your family, Amin"

OK. What is the message here? For me it's simple. You have 24 hours in a day and if you really put your mind to it, you can do pretty much all that you want to do if you plan and keep reminding yourself. Perhaps not all in a day but give yourself a chance to spread those things that you want to do on weekly or monthly basis.

I used to work in a professional accounting firm for about 13 years and it was 24 hours work a day (well, 18 hours work, 1 hour getting ready, toilet and stuff and 3 hours of sleep and of course 2 hours of traffic jam daily). It was a life not meant for me, and hence, I decided to change. Really, no use blaming others. The onus is on you. You decide on your own life and let God allow it to happen. How did I change?

I know I have many things to consider such as family, health, career, money, hobbies and what not. So, I changed to a job that allows me to accomodate all those. Even so, some people still got stuck in their work and ended up not changing their quality of life. Being a bloody accountant, I deviced a method using a "Mental Checklist". Mine suits my life,... you should have yours tailored made to suit yours. Basically, I have 10 checkpoints to ensure that I consider whether I have the time to do it, either on daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Even if I am too busy and have to work till midnight and not being able to do any of it, I constantly remind myself of it - Insya Allah, you will somehow fit those into your hectic schedule. Hectic life is not just work. Hectic life should be both work and "life" itself - hence the motherhood statement "Work-Life Balance" for which, some believes to be a mythology rather than a methodology. If you permit me, I would like to share my 10 Checkpoints embedded in my head 24 hours like the 10 commandments carved onto the stone for Moses:

1. God - I am a Muslim. I do struggle to battle with my inner demons to pray but now I can do 4 times a day - I know, a bit more to go :) Early morning (Subh) prayers are the most difficult ones. I am a heavy sleeper.

2. Wife - Every month or so, me and my wife find time to do something together. Normally it's fine dining at some cool restaurant (I recommend Rahsia at Jalan Damai KL) but other times it can be movies, DVDs, marathons, concerts, musical, a trip to Penang, whatever. Play hide and seek with your wife if you must. Of course never forget to buy things for birthdays, anniversaries and Valentines!!!!! Get your secretary to remind you if you must.. better if the secretary knows when to buy flowers and puts it in your hands before you leave the office.

3. Kid(s) - I only have 1 kid. A boy. And I am grateful. He is 5 this year. He is a difficult boy to handle. So energetic and chaotic like atoms in tubes. All these energies need to be focused. So what else could I think of? Football clinics every Saturday morning and listening to rock music with him. His favourites are Queen, Metallica and Michael Jackson. I try my best, once or twice a week to be back home before he is asleep so that I can talk to him and put him to bed after reciting some Quranic verses together. You'll be amazed how much a 5-year old can absorb. I couldn't read anything at that age but he can read and memorise Quranic verses. Incredible. Next in mind would be either guitar classes or drums.

4. Health (Vitamins) - My wife forces me to eat vitamins every day - Garlic Pills to reduce gas, Vitamin B for God knows what, Vitamin C for immunity and Ginkgo Biloba for blood circulation and to improve my memory (I am a forgetful person - My staff and wife say so). This actually helped reduce sickness and improved my sinusitis problems. There is a new addition recently, 100% concentrated Cherry Juice. Not sure what it does but apparently, it keeps you young (what's that called again? anti-oksidant?).

5. Health (Exercise) - I try my best to go to the Gym 3 times a week for cardio on the trademill for 5 kms and I would do weights for half an hour or so. On the weekends, while my son swims in the small pool, I'd go for 10 laps in the Olympic sized pool just to record a 1 kilometre of satisfaction (20 X 50 metres). I even cut down on rice and amazingly, over the past year, I have managed to lose weight from 85 kg to 72 kg.

6. Knowledge (Newspapers) - I get free newspapers at work every working day. So why waste it? You don't need to read everything. Just scan through the headlines and if anything interests you, read the first 2 paragraphs and the last paragraphs. Do this for main news, business news, sports, entertainment, politics and whatever sections in the newspapers. I trust that you will feel quite informed to comfortably have a meaningful discussion or conversation at work or while socialising. I did not read newspapers for 13 years. Now I do. And I feel smarter now in 12 months compared to the last 13 years.

7. Knowledge (Books) - Literature and history is my passion. I like reading books on history, religion and politics but I try to balance between serious stuff and fiction. So I switch from the Mein Kampf of the world to Jeffrey Archer, Dan Brown, some Malay religious books from the mosque during Friday prayers as well as classics like To Kill A Mocking Bird. Even if you feel tired and just wanting to sleep after a stressful day, pick up the book and read at least 1 or 2 pages - and get the book mark handy. Go to the book shop and buy 2 or 3 books and get a really good reading lamp to accompany your alarm clock by the side of the bed.

8. Hobbies (Music) - I love music. I learnt how to play the guitar at the age of 14 and was the school bassist back then. I was also the Drum Major for the Brass Band after doing a round of side drums, piccolo and saxaphones but none I managed to remember except for guitar. So naturally, I continued to be a bassist even at University and now in the office band. Every now and then I meet up with old friends from Uni days to jam some tunes from the old days. I am passionate about this and my next step is to build a jamming studio in my new house. To prepare for this, I go for guitar solo classes every Sunday morning.

9. Hobbies (Writing/Blogging) - As mentioned earlier. I like literature. Whilst reading gives you pleasure, creating your own piece gives you enlightenment. I am not a writter, nor am I a poet. But I write poems in both Malay and English. If you ask me, well,.. they are not too bad eventhough they were rejected by the New Straits Times some 10 years ago. I like writing them and I recite them to my friends and family. I must have written over 100 pieces to date. Nowadays, instead of poems, I blog. Of course if you are reading this, I need not expand any further. How frequent do I blog? Well, not that frequent but if you must know, go check my archive.

10. Hobbies (Oil Painting) - This is the only checkpoint that I haven't really been able to address. Before my ears got tuned with music or before my hands went wild writing, my eyes actually fell in love with fine arts at the age of 7. I love drawing. I do pencils, water colours, charcoal, photography, computer graphics, multimedium and the latest adventure is Oil Painting. So far I have only done 3 pieces (One donated to my sister, one to a good pilot friend and the 3rd on the wall at my home). I simply do not have the space for this coz my house is a 20 by 70. I hope to move into a new home in the next 2 years or so depending on the speed of renovation. When that is ready, my jamming studio will also serve as my sanctuary for art... my Oil Painting corner where I can leave my paintings to dry. Canvas, oil paint and eisels (spelling correct?) are all in the store room for the time being.


If you notice, some categories actually appear more than once. It is the sheer relevance and significance that those categories have on my life that made it that way. My hobbies are "art" related so that took 3 points out of 10. And,.. if you notice again, words such as "Work", "Money", "Career" or any of that sort do not appear anywhere. Why? Well, I spend 11 hours of my daily life at work, including the driving, the traffic jams and the meetings over lunch. So, with such working hours, do you really want to put those words in your 10 Checkpoint list? I may not be realistic here. Forgive me. But for some, if you feel "work", "career" or "money" are worthy of being carved onto your mental checklist, be my guess. I actually had the below list for the past 13 years before I had embarked on my "change of lifestyle" mission:

1. Work
2. Work
3. Work
4. Work
5. Work
6. Work
7. Work
8. Work
9. Work
10. Toilet

The sad thing with this is that, I don't even see "sleep", "wife" or "girlfriend" or even "money". Pathetic. Some may argue that you cannot be foolish and forget about career and money. Well, ok, if you really think so, then have it in a positive manner such as "post-grad studies", or "ideas to present to the boss on weekly basis" or "monitor unit trust performance" or whatever as long as it is positive and you feel good about it.

You don't need to spend a lot. You don't need to be rich to achieve this work-life balance. A newspaper a day and a page of Quranic translation a day will suffice. Cut down on rice and fat and jogging at the lake with Power sports shoes instead of Nike will suffice. Play Scrabbles with your wife and kids will be meaningful. Gardening and cooking can easily be a hobby. Everyone is given the chance to make a difference in their lives. You just have to take charge and make it happen. The rest, leave it to God to allow it to happen. By God's will, it will. Insya Allah. Amin.

* kopihangtuah

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