Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Let’s start by talking about jobs, since jobs give us our salaries. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is already telling us point-blank that as many as 51 million jobs worldwide could be lost this year because of the global economic crisis. As reported by BBC News (Source: Website http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7855661.stm, posted January 28, 2009), the UN agency is saying that this global job crisis will push up the world's unemployment rate to 7.1% by the end of 2009, compared with 6.0% in 2008 and 5.7% in 2007; that even their most optimistic forecast is for 18 million more unemployed, giving a global jobless rate of 6.1%; and that developing countries will suffer most from additional job losses. In Malaysia, according to Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam, a total of 33,451 workers lost their jobs last year (Source: The Edge Daily, as at website http://www.theedgedaily.com/cms/content.jsp?id=com.tms.cms.article.Article_fd684aa4-cb73c03a-7bfc0400-d74ed0f2, posted January 22, 2009). This same minister had also indicated that as of January 12, 14,000 workers lost their jobs (Source: The New Straits Times, as at website http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Monday/National/2456920/Article/index_html, posted January 19, 2009) – this statistic already representing almost 42% of the 2008 jobless figure, and painting a very scary picture indeed! Juan Somavia, ILO director-general has rightly warned us: “We can expect that for many of those who manage to keep a job, earnings and other conditions of employment will deteriorate” (Source: BBC News, as at website http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7855661.stm, posted January 28, 2009).
And more grim news: Malaysia's Bank Negara had already slashed its key policy rate by a surprise 75 basis points to its lowest level in over 10 years, and is expected to cut rates further. Our economics-illiterate government which had boldly trumpeted that economic growth this year will be 3.5 percent, a figure many private sector economists say is overly optimistic, is sounding like a distant echo because last week, Bank Negara itself had to sheepishly admit that the economy was a lot more vulnerable (Source: Website http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/01/21/afx5945599.html, posted January 21, 2009).
An obvious outcome of a severe economic downturn is that as the economy goes into a tailspin, crime surges and swells. In fact, just by leafing through any Malaysian daily, we can bear witness to rampant crime in many of our cities. And what’s worse, this is accompanied by what the public believes to be – rightly or wrongly – police ineptitude, corruption, and brutality (this last descriptor is best illustrated in today’s edition of the Malay Mail, January 28, 2009) when its editorial (p 2) carries the headline “Who guards the guards?” which I am reproducing here, mostly verbatim:
“The death of 22-year-old Kugan Ananthan in police custody on Jan 20 has once again cast a terrible shadow of doubt on the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP). Kugan had been arrested on Jan 15 on suspicion of stealing luxury cars, but died five days later at the Subang Jaya Taipan police station as a result of a pulmonary oedema (a fluid build-up in the lungs).
Post-mortem photographs taken by his family indicated trauma to his back, arms and legs, and while Selangor police chief DCP Khalid Abu Bakar initially dismissed claims that Kugan’s injuries may have killed him, the Attorney-General has classified the young man’s death as murder. Even as the public has been asked not to speculate about Kugan’s death, the fact remains that the lack of clarity in the way the police handled the matter, and in the interrogation of suspects generally, leaves the people little choice.
At stake is the credibility of the entire police force. We have clear procedures through which every death in custody must be investigated immediately by a magistrate – and a coroner would be better – but what we lack is enforcement of these measures despite calls for their implementation from even the highest levels of government.
The 2005 report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the police (Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police) found a disturbingly high number of deaths in custody from 2000 to 2004: There were 80 fatalities, and of these only 39 cases were referred to a magistrate – and these in turn resulted in only six inquests.
Likewise, police officers can be cleared of any wrongdoing quickly and with no damage to their reputations if the RMP is subjected to the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, but the police have rejected the ombudsman because they fear the commission might have an adverse impact on dignity and morale.
The truth is, however, that dignity and morale are the natural results of credibility and confidence. Public faith in the police has been badly shaken, and it is long past the time that such faith be restored.
We really need not ask what to do – the Royal Commission has provided us with a clear list of recommendations that, at the very least, might have made the circumstances surrounding Kugan’s death substantially clearer.
For example, the commission recommended that suspects be allowed access to a lawyer or be produced before a magistrate should they have any complaints about their arrest and detention. What became of this?
We should not, in fact, ask any questions at all except to demand that the commission’s recommendations be implemented fully and without delay.
Whatever we do now, we cannot save Kugan. What we can do is save the Royal Malaysian Police”.
With all these happening in our own backyard, shouldn’t we Malaysians worry? Perhaps, ‘challenging’ is not the right word; perhaps we should use this word: ‘alarming’ instead, or maybe even ‘dreaded’! ‘Dreaded’ – what a dreadful word!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Today (Monday, January 26), being the first day of the Lunar New Year, brings some good tidings to those who fear this year might indeed be a “dreadful” year (a description that is a Tory understatement, if ever there was one, as expressed by the UK shadow business secretary Ken Clarke, and posted on BBC News, January 25). The good tidings come in the form of a Deloitte Malaysia advice that spells out their 7 secrets to survive this economic downturn (Star, Malaysia, January 26, 2009, p B6). I do hope my bosses at HICT are pondering over this article, and reading and re-reading it, to hopefully learn from the free lessons contained therein. In fact, these 7 survival strategies are very simple to understand and execute – and believe me, they are very relevant to HICT because just as we are growing, we must still be mindful that the present is very unsettled and capricious – and therefore, we need to be strong and resilient enough to ensure performance sustainability over the long-term for our organization. These 7 strategies are:
Decide how much cost improvements are required by evaluating individual company’s situation.
Start with the obvious such as streamlining general and administrative functions and materials and services costs.
Take the enterprise view by looking beyond organizational silos to include cost-cutting opportunities across the entire enterprise.
Balance short- and long-term improvements and adopt a tiered approach to cost reduction.
Choose the right business model that fits in a period of downturn.
Protect strategic investments that have value-add activities.
Actively manage change which involves overcoming resistance to necessary change in an organization.
Basically, what the above means, is that we should institute strategic structural improvements, rather than tactical improvements. But here’s my point: We should examine the individual and department in terms of their “measurable” contribution to the organization. We should not treat each and every individual and department as being equal because resources and budgets are already limited and even stretched, in some cases. We must consider that the outcomes an individual and department yield are bound to be unequal – we simply cannot afford to manage the organization as a sum of equal parts because we are not (equal). We will need to re-examine the way we do things at HICT because what we have achieved so far, are not very tangible and certainly, not far-reaching enough. At meetings, I am resigned to the fact that most of us are happy with what we have achieved thus far, because we have made meager improvements here and there. What we lack is a strategic perspective of the business.
Right now, we are not focused. We do things on an ad-hoc basis – perhaps because we do not have an understanding of how the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together; we tend to be reactive rather than proactive; we engage in trivial pursuits; and yes, we spend too much time politicking. All of these detract us from the real purpose of the organization: To grow and prosper within a given time frame. And so, it is my hope, that we take these lessons to heart, immediately and seriously. We need strong leadership now – more so, in 2009, no more playing musical chairs, no more pussyfooting around, and definitely, no more political one-upmanship.
I believe HICT is on the threshold of something really big and exciting – dare we take the bull (pun intended) by the horns, and address this challenge? In the end, it’s all about change, really.
Football is also a bleak subject. Yes, Celtic won their match, but both Arsenal and Liverpool did not exactly shine. I am delighted that Celtic scalped Hibernian 3-1, thereby maintaining their No. 1 position in the SPL table; Celtic’s goals came from McDonald (3, 76), and McManus (9). In the meantime, in the FA Cup fourth rounds, Arsenal produced a scoreless draw against Cardiff, and Liverpool managed a lame 1-1 draw against Everton. As I have said, Liverpool must win, but they did not – although it can be said that Liverpool’s FA Cup hopes are still alive; they are perilously holding on by a tenuous thread, at best! To say, I am unhappy, is to put it very mildly – the point is that “Liverpool had enjoyed huge supremacy in both possession and territory” but yet, they didn’t find the net, they couldn’t score – except for that timely Gerrard strike (54) that was badly needed to cancel out Everton’s Lescott goal in the 27th minute. We often forget it is results that count – not the efforts, nor the attempts. In this respect, Liverpool has failed.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
The New Straits Times (January 23, 2009, p B12) reported Microsoft dishing out its menu of bad news – disappointing results, the planned elimination of up to 5,000 jobs, and the decision to cease offering profit forecasts for the rest of the fiscal year – and naturally, shocking Wall Street in the process yesterday. Jobs that are going to disappear cut across a broad spectrum of departments: R&D, marketing, sales, legal, human resources, finance, and information technology. Already one analyst has remarked that Microsoft has never had a layoff like this before, and that they are sending a signal that times are definitely changing. Well, recall that even PM-in-waiting Najib (one blogger had an impolite name for him: Naji?) did exhort, Change or perish! How perceptive – although in the case of BN, it is a case of too little, and too late. It doesn’t matter whether it is Permatang Pauh or Kuala Terengganu or any other future by-elections for that matter – BN will lose! For the rest of the world – we can only sit tight, put our heads down and work bloody hard, and just pray that we will see through these difficult times, with our jobs still intact! Just in case, there are still Malaysians who are missing the plot, Microsoft Corporation’s CEO, Steve Ballmer in an email describes the present times we find ourselves in, as “the most challenging economic climate we have ever faced” (The Star, Malaysia, January 23, 2009, p B12). If Microsoft, a Fortune 500 company (No. 44 in 2008) is finding themselves in dire straits, we know we better brace ourselves for a very uncertain, even precarious future. Not exactly a time to celebrate with happy abandonment
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today, we also resumed our Toastmasters meeting at HICT, and we saw a number of guests dropping in, 2 of whom deserve special mention. These two whom I am referring to, are vacationing students, one studying at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and the other studying at Universiti Utara Malaysia. Incidentally, Weng May and Enki are both from Klang – that figures! Given some last-minute glitches, I didn’t do my speech – which makes me feel woefully wretched. I guess I will have to make sure I do my promised speeches next month. There's a lot of catching up to do!
In the January 19 game, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Everton, the former letting slip a chance to earn 3 precious points. I am disappointed, dejected, and downcast, especially knowing that Liverpool can ill-afford to produce this lame result at this stage of the season. It seemed that even though Liverpool enjoyed plenty of possession, Everton refused to play dead and let the Reds walk over them – so it was a hard-fought game between two hardworking sides. Still, Liverpool deserved to share points because they conceded a dismal goal in the 87th minute when they allowed Everton’s Cahill to sneak in a header.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Classes are now in full swing, and I am logging 23 hours a week. But that’s not all, by next month, there’s maybe, another 4-8 hours for me. I will be happy when this semester is over – believe me, the workload is weighty. The only consolation is that I will have expanded my team of full-time teaching staff from 2 to hopefully, 6 by this April. It looked positive, and I am keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully, with this development, the problems we are having this semester with timetabling, teaching resources, and subject offerings can be considerably reduced. I wonder if other colleges are facing the same kind of problems as I am?
Andy McDonough’s CD sales have now reached 665 units – thanks to Mathew. Also, Brandon has started his Project KL Movie (KL stands for K Loghandran lah) – the movie project – and and so, we should be moving forward now. The only other thing we need to do is to have a sit-down meeting with Loghandran. There are other projects in the pipeline, and I will report on them in due time. Certainly, 2009 promises to be an exciting year for ADP, and our students will have their hands full with activities. I, on the other hand, hope to have my hands full with new students!
And in the SPL tonight – I was following the Celtic-Aberdeen game through “live text”. An interesting way to keep tabs on a match that is not ever going to be featured on the ESPN channel! Aberdeen’s Gary McDonald opened scoring in the 24th minute, which was, of course, a real bummer. But just as quickly, Brown equalized for Celtic (25th minute). Duff put Aberdeen up again with a 31st minute goal, before Celtic replied very late in the 73rd minute through Scott McDonald. And in keeping with their forward momentum, Aberdeen responded with two Diamond goals in short order (75th and 78th minutes). The final heartrending score: Celtic 2, Aberdeen, 4. A great free-flowing game, but…
Saturday, January 17, 2009
And this brings to mind, this particular HOD – his idea of marketing strategy is so deceptively simple: Sell cheap and advertise heavily. I guess we can equate him to AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes because his ideas are dismayingly similar. But little did he realize that AirAsia is a different proposition altogether, unlike Professional courses, where there is plentiful competition in our own backyard to begin with. In fact, whenever I recall his repetitive “cheap, cheap, cheap” refrain – it reminds me of the awful grating noise made by fingernails scraping on a blackboard. Somehow, this HOD has this memorable effect on me…
The results of the KT by-election has been announced, and PAS won. Hip, hip, hooray, BN loses again.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The Kuala Terengganu by-election is just around the corner and I have so far refrained from commenting on it. But I must, especially since I read in this morning’s edition of The Sun, where special mention was made about the late Razali (the reason why this by-election was called), that “never has a former deputy education minister been so honored. He will now have a school and a (training) institute named after him” (January 16, 2009, p 2). Don’t you think this is ridiculously far-fetched? Ludicrously harebrained? Inanely moronic? And do we want BN to win? How low will they stoop to win? I hope Razali is tossing and turning in his grave because he knows he is not so deserving!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
It’s too late now but I think I have missed the boat. Why, you may ask? I was planning to do 3 speeches this month. My busy and engrossing schedule in January has made me forget my speech-making plans, and yes, I am filled with regret and misgiving and even sadness. But being a person who does not dwell on the past for too long – I will have to find a Band-Aid to this non-activity by creating an opportunity for me to make my 3 speeches – somehow. Damn! Now, I am cross with myself for letting this escape from my memory; I am displeased with myself for failing to remember. To rub salt in the wound, I had also forgotten to attend this month’s meeting (i.e. January 08) of the D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club. Sheesh! Am I so forgetful now? If I am a woman over 35, I can always blame it on hormonal…OMG! Are you thinking what I am thinking? No, no, it cannot be! Of course not! Positively, I am not! Surely, I am not! What am I thinking of? Err…
This morning, I was at SMJK Kwang Hua and I was giving this talk on “10 Keys to 10 A’s” but there were a couple of students who attended one of my previous talks (on another subject) who were disappointed that I didn’t turn on my trademark humor. Am I losing my touch? Am I becoming an unfunny person? Questions a-plenty I am raising in today’s posting... Time to take a KitKat break and look at myself in the mirror…
Monday, January 12, 2009
There was football action too. Arsenal at least managed to win its game (by beating Bolton 1-0; the solitary goal coming from Bendtner in the 84th minute), while Liverpool produced a colorless display by being held to a scoreless draw by Stoke. And Man U did everyone a favor by demolishing Chelsea 3-0 because this means that the latter’s title race may just peter out. More importantly, it provides some breathing space for table-toppers, Liverpool since Chelsea was too close for comfort. But then again, so is Man U now, especially with 2 games in hand. Liverpool, better watch out!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Yesterday was the first day of a new semester at HICT. We had only 9 ADP students reporting, although this is not the full complement. There is obviously a failure in communication between Registry and the new students since there are at least another nine students who failed to turn up. It is something that I need to look into. Still, this looks like a good group of students who can work well with the other ADP students. Many of us are already interacting with them, and this is a healthy sign, methinks.
Football news. On Saturday, Celtic squandered a 2-goal lead against Dundee United to share the points in a 2-2 draw. (Both of Celtic’s goals came from Samaras in the 12th and 58th minutes). Sigh. In any case, Celtic boss, Gordon Strachan himself said he wouldn’t lose any sleep after his side drew. Oh well… In the FA Cup, Liverpool had the upper hand, and defeated Preston 2-0; and Arsenal overcame Plymouth 3-1.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
And this cheesy guy (yes, I am still referring to Brandon) mustered every ounce of courage to announce his cheesy 2009 resolutions! Mind you, “cheesy” is his word – not mine! And yes, Brandon, I am also up to it, and here’s my resolutions for 2009!
2009 Resolution List
1. Start writing my Marketing textbook
2. Start my second Masters
3. Write a short story and get it published
4. Complete 20 Toastmasters speeches
5. Complete 700 teaching hours at HICT
6. Bring up the ADP student population at HICT to 500
7. Yield 5,000 visits to my blog
8. Complete 2 music CD projects
But that is not all. I have actually done a Resolution List that spans 3 years, but I will not reveal… This year’s resolutions should suffice for now… And like a good manager, I will provide a report card at the end of every quarter to establish my level of resoluteness in fulfilling my resolutions, to ascertain how I fare, to celebrate or regret. "Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right" proclaims Oprah Winfrey, but I disagree - this is not another chance, this is my one and only chance, and I will get it right!!!