Saturday, February 28, 2009

Toll Flip-Flop

On Thursday (February 26), Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed had brashly announced toll increases for five major highways. Yesterday (February 27), he backtracked and told a press conference that the Cabinet had decided to postpone the toll hikes. This flip-flop sure says a lot about our Government. And for the Works Minister to mouth it with a straight face is to reaffirm that he possesses the intellect of an amoeba, that he is cleverly projecting himself to be mentally-retarded. And for added emphasis, our Prime Minister reiterated that the decision was not made due to the coming Bukit Selambau state and Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-elections, “but due to the people’s economic hardship”. I am so touched… our Prime Minister is so caring that tears are welling up in my eyes. Sob, sob.

Also, yesterday, we, the faculty from ADP and Diploma in Business organized a lunch at Seoul Garden, BBK. Incidentally, this was my first time having Korean fare. We were supposed to go Dutch but Dr. Cho Cho Wei had been quick with her purse and she paid. The reason? She has finally received official confirmation on her Ph. D status from Universiti Malaya. Actually, we should be paying for her – and celebrate her “Dr.” title, but she was one fast Myanmarese! My verdict on Korean food? For a person who is not adventurous about food, I actually enjoyed it!

Today, I attended the International Understanding Day, organized by SMK Raja Lumu Port Klang and held at HICT. I was one of 5 people who gave a welcoming speech, and they even invited the Rotary Club of Bangkok Pattanakarn District members to attend and which they did. More importantly, I found out why Taylor’s University College is well-regarded by many schools in Klang and Port Klang. One reason is because this UC has been very supportive of Interact Club activities – I do believe that Interactors make good opinion leaders, and therefore, we should also target these students in our marketing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Good News on Football


Yossi Benayoun's headed in the all-important away goal when he connected with Fabio Aurelio’s curling free kick in the 82nd minute to give Liverpool a valuable 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League's first knockout round yesterday, February 25 (Thursday morning, Malaysian time). I am overjoyed, because late yesterday evening, I was confronted by two Man U fans (at HICT) who made the mistake of pouring cold water over Liverpool’s chances – obviously these guys (Owais and Eugene) don’t know the Reds at all; they’ve been under this huge delusional spell that only Man U can take the crown in Europe – Hahahaha! Not only do I pity them because they have lost their marbles, but they make me laugh! Don’t they know that the Champions League has always brought out the best of Liverpool under manager Rafael Benitez, whose tactical expertise has flourished in the competition, and this fixture was no different?

It had been reported that Bank Negara Malaysia had, again, reduced the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR). This time around, the reduction is by 50 basis points, down to two percent, as announced by them 2 days ago – this is further evidence that we have been misled last year by both the government and their army of economists that we would be unaffected by the financial and economic contraction that was unfolding everywhere in the world. Okay, I am being unfair here! They might not have misled us because at that point in time, they may have honestly believed that we were strong enough to defy the turmoil that is engulfing the world. If they were not misleading us, then it would mean that they were really stupid to believe that Malaysia as a trading nation can stay aloof when everywhere around us are sinking into this deepening financial and economic morass. In this same Bernama report, it is now acknowledged that the Malaysian economy has been adversely impacted by these global developments. So, last year, we were in self-denial, but today, we have admitted that we are now faced with the stark reality that all is not well – in fact, we are rapidly descending into a quagmire of economic deterioration.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hard Work Pays Off, Whether It's Football or MQA

Good news, even if I reported this somewhat belatedly! In the away leg of the Champions League last-16 clash against Roma, Arsenal’s Van Persie netted in a goal (a penalty from a Philippe Mexes foul), to give the Gunners a 1-0 win. Arsenal were definitely the better team, but they couldn’t find the net, save this one solitary shot.

And more good news! The MQA visit to HICT on February 24-25 ended today, and everything turned out well, save one or two small issues that came well-disguised as suggestions. I am happy to report that we have been successful in this accreditation exercise, thereby achieving something that has not been possible all these years for this much-maligned Diploma in Business program. I do not believe we could have pulled this off if not for the untiring efforts by Yoga and Amutha and the unflinching support from the Diploma in Business students (90% of them, but Alice Lee and Callister Wong deserve special mention), ADP students (specifically Ke Xin, Andrew, Mervyn and Shamroz), and not excluding Iyad from Engineering and Jonathan from Marketing who have all helped to make this possible. Thank you, everybody!

Dr. Paul Chan’s email today sums up how we all feel about finally getting this accreditation: “I am glad that I have put my trust in you. Congratulations. Now focus on SNHU. This is a good program. We can do a lot more to get students. When I return I want to meet on SNHU”. But of course, my work never ends…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Collages

Yesterday (February 23), in class, my Marketing Research students presented their homework that they did over the weekend – collages. For our purpose, a collage is a qualitative research tool where the respondent assembles pictures that represent his or her thoughts and feelings about something – in this case, a given brand (e.g. Apple, Facebook, Red Bull, and Vespa, amongst others). From the 4 photos here, we can see that the focus is on visual portrayals, interpretations, and other expressive descriptions. If I have to select the best two of the lot, I would pick Facebook and Vespa.



Meanwhile, today, the HICT Toastmasters Club had their February meeting, and thirteen people came, including 4 speechmakers. Mathew said this was a sad number, but to me, it is still good because whatever the number, it reflects the commitment of those who did come. And I finally did my speech in my own home turf, i.e. speech No. 6 which is to demonstrate vocal variety. Again, because of this MQA accreditation work that I am absorbed in, I did not even plan, nor even think about my speech that I must make this evening. This meant that I had to think on my feet, and in the end, I made a speech that was more akin to doing a longer-version of a table topic – but of course, it must make sense and all tie in together into one coherent message. As my evaluator, Chan Weng May rightly put it, it was a speech that was very spontaneous. Let me try to recall what other things she said about my speech: Oh yes, that the speech was well-paced, with sufficient pauses to keep the audience’s interest intact, that my voice was loud and clear, and that I was oozing with polished confidence. She also made good suggestions on how I could improve. Still let me put this across very plainly: I don’t like my speech. I am not sure if it was interesting or not but it was 9 minutes and 40 seconds long – way past the allotted time! Evidently, I am capable of being long-winded, talky, and verbose.

On a separate note, I am grateful to Mathew for putting this meeting together at very short notice, and despite the multiple roles some of us have to play, we acquitted ourselves well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Distressed Edith Cowan Students

The new semester for the Edith Cowan business degree program is impending – but sad to say, the results from last semester have yet to be announced, the timetable has not been finalized, and there is a certain level of noticeable disquiet among our ECU students. It is regrettable that we are not focused on giving the best attention to this up-and-coming program – but I have to keep mum, lest I be accused of trespassing into other people’s sphere of influence. Distressed ECU students who are concerned about the current state of affairs would be well-advised to approach the powers-that-be directly for any clarification and/or affirmation. As I am typing words and sentences to post in this blog, a rash thought raced through my mind and then nimbly made a pit stop to declare that unhappy students who are intending to do International Business and Marketing can always consider the option to transfer into my SNHU program! And why not? SNHU is an excellent degree program for discerning Business students! I should know! Heyy-y-y, it’s my favorite program!


In the EPL, Liverpool must win this match against Manchester City in order to continue to pursue table-topping Man U. But Manchester City actually drew first blood, before David Kuyt equalized for the Reds in the 78th minute. A poor result…

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Malaysian Chinese Dilemma

Toh Chin Hooi lent me a book, Ye Lin-Sheng’s “The Chinese Dilemma” which is an interesting, if not absorbing read – if only because it is a contentious analysis argued within the theoretical framework of Mahathir’s The Malay Dilemma; a brave attempt to palliate the much-criticized and much-maligned NEP (affirmative action Malaysian-style for those not familiar with this acronym). Certainly there will be many Malaysian Chinese who will not support the arguments contained therein, but I thought the writer was certainly eloquent and precise and even daring in his assessment of the Malaysian Chinese situation. If we can abandon the racial baggage that we are sometimes fond of carrying, we know that his arguments make a lot of sense. The author was correct to make this summation: “On the whole life has been good to them (i.e. the Chinese) in Malaysia, but the non-Malays have trouble acknowledging that” (p 118).

Celtic went into the match against Motherwell, knowing that they must win. Rangers had won yesterday’s game against Kilmarnock (3-1 score), and is sitting at the top of the SPL table with a one-point lead over Celtic. But the Bhoys could only manage a 1-1 draw against the Steelmen (McDonald hitting the ball low in the 60th minute into the Motherwell net), which means that Celtic now shares the top spot with Rangers (both having clinched 57 points over 26 games).

MACC Joke

We are in danger of looking stupid in the eyes of the world. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) became the latest Malaysian joke when its chief commissioner, Ahmad Said Hamdan issued a statement that MACC had “good and strong evidence” that Pakatan Rakyat’s Abdul Khalid Ibrahim had “misused (his) powers as (Selangor) menteri besar over maintenance of his Lexus RX350 and purchase of 46 cows for Aidiladha” (The New Straits Times, February 21, 2009, p 1). Although he had said the matter would be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action, this guy had already decided to take the unprecedented step of proclaiming Khalid guilty of corruption. Predictably, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang denounced Ahmad Said and said that the latter has reduced the MACC into a “Malaysian Agency for Car and Cows” by bowing to the dictates of its political masters, instead of making MACC into another ICAC (Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption), which is respected worldwide for its fight against corruption. How can anybody now expect Malaysians to put their trust and faith in government institutions? This is yet another example of Machiavellian politics perpetrated by BN!

Arsenal’s chances to challenge the table toppers are as good as over – especially since they cannot even carve a win over mid-table Sunderland; they struggled to a scoreless draw against the Black Cats. What can I say? Sigh… To even contemplate redeeming their battered pride, they must finish in the Top 4, and that means they must play catch up to Aston Villa and overtake them. Man U and Liverpool are just too far ahead!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Earning a Ticket to the UK

What a pleasant surprise! Our abstract submission to the Fourth International Blended Learning Conference in Hertfordshire, UK and the subsequent selection process means that we have been successful and that we are now invited to present our paper entitled "A Qualitative Study of Blended Learning in Malaysian Tertiary Institutions" in June 2009. Writing this paper is going to be a challenge, but the bigger challenge is getting financial sponsorship for one of us to attend this conference, which is going to cost this individual about RM10k. Sigh. Let’s see if HICT or even HELP can help!!
The continuing political impasse in Perak, and the political temperature already simmering in Kedah and Selangor are indicative of the BN offensive against those who have escaped from its stranglehold on power since the March 2008 elections. All along I have maintained that only snap elections will prevent the fuse of the political imbroglio from lighting up and detonating the Perak bomb – alas, it’s too late now because Najib has shown himself to be both impatient and reckless.
Ooi Kee Beng wrote an interesting piece for The Malaysian Insider today (February 21). Kindly check it out at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/opinion/ooikeebeng/18863-bewildered-in-malaysia-perplexed-in-perak-stupefied-in-selangor--no-wonder-the-masses-are-agitated.
But what alarms me and many Malaysians is the fact that “the political game in Malaysia has reached the level where intrigues and hidden tactics are the order of the day, where the mass media, the police, and the judiciary are no longer expected to act professionally, objectively, and with integrity”. The political situation will only deteriorate further...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The MQA Challenge

The MQA accreditation exercise for my Diploma in Business (DIB) program is imminent, and I am having many irons in the fire to ensure that all preparations are meticulously done to get ourselves ready. In this exercise, I am grateful to have the assistance of Yoga and Amutha, as well as strong support from other staff members, not excluding KY Leong and the DIB students. We are sparing no effort to get things organized and get them right – so that we do not screw up as we are wont to do!

I spied this article in The Star (StarBiz, February 17, p B10) two days ago, and the sub heading “World needs crazy ideas to change things as conventional way is not working" screamed out at me! How spot-on, I thought. And as always, my thoughts drift back to HICT, and how we must do the same if we want to stop the red ink and in the process, grow as quickly as we can. Incidentally, this was a Thomas Friedman article, and methinks, he is certainly right.

I have expanded my playlist to more than 80 songs now – so this should keep my readers satiated when they immerse themselves in my postings and let my (selection of) songs caress them with aural fingers of indulgent pleasure. I must thank Stephie for introducing many of the songs to me! We have similar musical dispositions, it would seem.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Support of Elizabeth Wong

As far back as November 29, 2008, I had already mentioned about Elizabeth Wong in my blog posting because I have been regularly following and reading her blog even before that. A real activist whom I have immense respect for – and now it is sad that she has to make the ultimate sacrifice in her political career because of “gutter politics”. Her announced resignation today is a bitter reflection of what some people will do to execute a political agenda, and that is, to attack her in order to destroy Keadilan. My heart goes out to her, and I am positive that if a by-election is called, her constituents will ensure that Bukit Lanjan remains firmly with Pakatan Rakyat.

I agree with Dr. Farish Noor, when he wrote, “Wong is an adult woman who is capable of making decisions and choices of her own and, like any of us, she is entitled to live her private life in the manner she sees fit. No crime has been committed, no public funds embezzled, no state secrets revealed and no Mongolian models blown to bits”.

And he continued: “In the wake of the elections of March 2008, Malaysian society has demonstrated our desire for change, and for a new politics that befits and mirrors the new Malaysia we live in.

This was the clearest call ever for a new political culture where feudalism, corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy and double standards are done away with once and for all. We are sick and tired of the vacuous moral claims of those who speak of morality and religion on the one hand while robbing the state and eroding our fundamental human rights on with the other.

Defending the private lives and private spaces of our politicians is, therefore, part and parcel of the process to regain and defend the private domain of all Malaysians, where we may live, love, pray, hope and strive for the betterment of ourselves and the fulfilment of our destinies in peace.

It is that fundamental right that entitles us to be what we are. No human being should be denied that privacy for the loss of that privacy entails the loss of something greater: the loss of the right simply to be what we are. The entire democratic process and democratic endeavour rests on that.

For now, however, it is our moral obligation to rally in support for a fellow Malaysian whose right to privacy has been violated. Let us not be indecisive here, for we clearly know who has been the victim. For those whose lives have been violated thus, one can only imagine the personal anguish they must be going through”.

And he concluded: “Perhaps this is that defining moment for Ms Wong. We hope that she will meet this challenge with the dignity that she possesses, and emerge stronger.

So chin up, Elizabeth; and keep a smile on your face. Don't let the detractors get you down. The struggle for a better Malaysia has just begun, and there is still a long road ahead”. Hear hear!


I couldn’t stay up late last night (or to be precise, early this morning), so I had to rely on the 7 AM news on radio to learn of the outcome of the FA Cup fourth-round replay match between Arsenal and Cardiff City. I was mighty glad to know that the Gunners won by 4 goals to nil; the goals coming from Eduardo (20th and 60th [penalty] minutes); Bendtner (34th minute); and Van Persie (89th minute). Finally…

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Snowball and Kilts

The SPL match between the two Glaswegian teams was much-anticipated but this Celtic-Rangers game produced a dreary 0-0 scoreline. As BBC News reported: “There was much endeavor on show but little entertainment”. Yawn, it's Sunday after all, and here in Malaysia, it's almost midnight...
The weather in Scotland can be really punishing – so much so that in the Scottish Football League, nine matches had been called off because of the adverse wintry weather. Well, Glasgow was spared...

Since we are still talking about Scotland, do you know that this question is asked by virtually everyone who is not Scottish? - "What is worn underneath men’s kilts?"


Anyway, I was told that what is worn underneath men’s kilts is really a personal choice for each person – but that traditionally, no undergarments are worn underneath the kilt!
Photo Courtesy of Britta Gustafson

When I do return to Glasgow one day, I must remember to get some tartan to bring home with me. After all, Scotland holds special memories...

Friday, February 13, 2009

School Talks

This week, I have been busy on the school speaking circuit. Last Tuesday (February 10), I went to give yet another school talk at SMK La Salle – two sessions with Fifth Formers on “10 Keys to 10 A’s”, and today (February 13), I was at SMK Methodist (ACS), followed by SMK Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (STAR) to present my “Who Am I?” topic. These school talks are important because the targeted Klang schools are a source of my ADP student numbers.


And last night, I was at D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club to present my speech #. 5 (i.e. Your Body Speaks), entitled “Managing My Stress”. My evaluator was Chan Siew Peng, and she claimed to be impressed with the way I delivered my speech, and better still, that I definitely displayed good body language. However, I should be more vigilant with my time keeping because one part of my speech could be better expanded to give more impact – and which I readily admit she was right. As far as I am concerned, I can still do better… In any case, I had ended my speech by relating my Laughter Club experience in New Delhi – it was a good ending – but one person thought that more emphasis on it would have made it even better. And Dr. Arul also mentioned that I need not travel all the way to India because there are Laughter Clubs in KL itself, and K Loghandran is very much involved in this. Very interesting…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Liverpool and Thaipusam

Today, The Star (February 09, p N14) featured a Penangite who only wanted to be known as Rosnathan, carrying a “Liverpool FC” kavadi, to give thanks to Lord Muruga for the birth of his son. When devotees show their love for their favorite EPL teams, it is not surprising to find that one of the two football-inspired kavadis making an appearance at this year's Thaipusam belonged to Liverpool.

Anyone who still doubts that the BN government in Perak is not illegitimate and illegal, should please read the Hannah Yeoh article posted in Anwar Ibrahim’s blog or also at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com.my/index.php/opinion/breaking-views/136-breaking-views/17916-a-mockery-of-our-democratic-institution--hanna-yeoh.
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On a related issue, the Business Times Singapore stressed these points in a news report on February 09 (and reproduced in The Malaysian Insider at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/17913-bns-perak-coup-may-prove-costly): “…Support for Najib is dismal, according to an independent poll conducted at the end of last year by the Merdeka Centre, with only 41 percent of respondents agreeing he would make a good Prime Minister. When broken down by race, 57 percent of the Malays gave him the nod, while only 18 percent or less than one in five Chinese and 28 percent of Indians agreed. And judging by the tone of comments on the blogosphere as well as those in coffee shops and homes across the country, Najib may have scored big with his party, but one suspects that it will be at some expense to UMNO’s main coalition partners, and greater political cost to his standing with the people”. But then again, what coalition partners? More like “lapdogs” who will praise them, no matter what, according to one “Malaysian” posting, and another who signed off as “Judge” had referred them as “running dog(s)”! One Abdullah in another posting even went so far as to claim that “Najib doesn’t have 30% Malay support”. And also there’s this Joe who remarked, “Time will tell whether Najib will suffer from this victory (i.e. the Perak coup d'etat). Malaysian voters must vote carefully in the next elections whether they want to continue with corrupted politicians in BN/UMNO. I hope that we kick them out and start a process of change”. There, again, that important word, change.

Ahhh-h-h yes, let me offer you this quote from Melinda Gates: “What great changes have not been ambitious?”

It is true – remember what John Gardner said? “The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can”.

And I am also reminded by what Michelle Obama said about Americans: “We need to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation. We have lost our way. And it begins with inspiration. It begins with leadership”. It is true for Malaysians too. What this country needs is people who can inspire, and people who can lead. Abdullah has failed us. And Najib is hopeless.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Working on a Weekend

I have been working hard this weekend – both days, in fact. Well, Life is hard, kan? Well, it is not as bad as I made it out to be - on both days, I was working half-days, doing the usual 'academic' stuff. Other than this, there's nothing cheerful that's worth reporting – whether on the economic or political fronts. Both sucks. And I still cannot see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel – which is not good, because it would seem that we are in for a long haul.

I saw this comment that was posted today at webpage
http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/17830/84/ and I just loved it: "Selamat datang ke Perak Darul Katak Melompat".

The Saturday match between Liverpool and Portsmouth really came alive in the second half. And Liverpool sealed the game only in the last ten minutes; the final score being 3-2 (Liverpool’s goals coming from Aurelio in the 69th minute; Kuyt in the 85th minute; and Torres in the 90th+2nd minute). On Sunday, Arsenal played to a scoreless draw against Tottenham; this result is definitely not helping Arsenal at all.

Celtic meanwhile, progressed to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 victory over Queen's Park; their goals coming from Caldwell in the 19th minute and McDonald in the 45th+1st minute.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Perak Sandiwara

Yesterday (Friday, February 06), I gave another talk on “Goal Setting” to Form 5 students of SMK (Perempuan) Kapar – it was interesting in that this is one of those occasions where I ended up doing my presentation in both English and Malay. It does test me on my proficiency in the Malay language but I do believe I acquitted myself rather well.


FRU firing tear gas in Kuala Kangsar is a typical fascist response. One is really perplexed – with crime on the rise in many of our urban cities and towns, the police pleaded inadequate manpower. Yet, to assist their political masters to stage the UMNO-scripted political sandiwara in Perak, we see the police coming out in full force to subdue the Perak populace. Unbelievable!

The tense atmosphere in Perak, it seems, has prompted Najib to skip CNY celebrations in Ipoh - well, at least, according to a news report in The Malaysian Insider (February 07 at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/17848-as-anger-simmers-najib-stays-away-from-ipoh) – why chicken out or is it that he knows the wrath of the Perak populace is really on the boil? And in another news report, Najib had pleaded (Hahahaha! Najib is pleading?) for the people to respect the decision made by the Sultan of Perak (The Malaysian Insider, February 07 at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/17837-najib-defends-power-grab-as-constitutional) – why conveniently use the Sultan as a shield? Is this how a leader behaves? And this is the person who is going to be our Prime Minister!!!! God save Malaysia!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Perak Betrayal

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said a large section of the public will be angry if the Perak Ruler does not dissolve the state assembly and invites BN to form the state government on the basis of dubious crossovers. Writing in his blog, the Gua Musang UMNO MP cautioned that taking control of Perak without getting the mandate of the people will spell disaster for BN in the next general election. "Our taking control without resorting to elections would cement the enmity of the very people we should be trying to win back.

"Come the next general election, they are going to reject both our state and parliamentary candidates with greater vehemence, and not just in Perak." (The Malaysian Insider, February 05 at webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/17648-ku-li-says-bn-faces-public-scorn-over-dubious-crossovers). A very valid point, I believe.

Lim Kit Siang, Ipoh Timur MP has reiterated, “Returning the mandate to the voters is the most honorable and democratic manner to resolve the political crisis in Perak”. Lim similarly called on Najib, the Prime Minister-in-waiting and who is also the Perak BN chief, not to attempt an illegal and unconstitutional grab for power in Perak and respect the constitutional process and the mandate of the people of Perak. I am not sure if Najib cares about due process - after all, having overseen the recent loss of 2 by-elections, he needs to redeem himself in the eyes of his UMNO and BN memberships. These defections came about just after Tajol Rosli resigned as the Perak UMNO Liaison Committee chairman and Perak BN chief – what perfect timing! What coincidence! What baloney!

Well, I just read the news that the Sultan of Perak has decided to allow BN to govern. Big shame! BN treachery wins the day! Perak voters have been betrayed!

The Process of Change

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. So, during these troubled times - I am especially referring to HICT which is on the skids, whether we know it or not - we must seriously look at change as something that is very necessary. It is critical for organizations to embrace change – otherwise, we may go the way of the dinosaurs. And change is good because of these 3 important reasons:

We learn the value of what things are worth – To change, means we must understand how we’ll invest our resources. This helps to put a price tag on things we often take for granted. We must learn (if we have not) that the free-wheelin’ days have come to an end.
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It keeps people at the top of their game – Without change we’d still be happily doing the same old thing, day after day, over and over again because we get trapped by routine and habit. Without change, there would be no evolution, no innovation, and no new ideas.
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Change creates opportunities – When things are plodding along, we think we are doing fine, and there’s really little incentive to do anything drastically different. We are too entrenched in our own comfort zone. But when external conditions do a seismic shift, it forces us to take a good, hard look at how we can adjust and adapt to this changing environment. Believe me, when we do make changes, this will open up opportunities we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t planned to get out of the proverbial box.

But how many of us are ready to make the change? Sheila read a passage from a book this morning (February 05), which was also appropriately about change: “Look guys, this is a world of change and here’s what has to be done to compete. You’ve got all these competitors out there that are trying to kill us. This is what we’re going to do and we need people who are willing to change and go forward. If you don’t like change, then maybe you should start growing corn because that’s the same year after year – and get out of this business” (McEntire, Marjorie (2000), “Novell: Transforming Culture”, in Mendenhall, Mark & Oddou, Gary (eds), Readings and Cases in International Human Resource Management, South-Western College Publishing, p 86).

"Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there” so says John Kotter. Certainly, change comes at a price. Are we prepared to change? Will we be willing to pay the price? Will we make the necessary sacrifices? I am ready, I have said.

In the meantime, in the FA Cup fourth round replay, we lost. Everton sneaked in a goal, two minutes from the end of extra time. And Liverpool is ousted from the FA Cup.

On the political front, more upheavals. I did say that there will be more defections. I was right – 3 PR reps defected to the BN camp. And plus the about-turn of the Bota assemblyman, Najib has claimed that the BN has the mandate to form the Perak government. He even sounded smug: “Everything is the will of God, we are thankful for this” (The Sun, February 05, p 1). Whether BN is going to take over the reins of power in Perak or there will be fresh elections – it seems that the Sultan will have to make this decision. Personally, I think the latter is the best option – let Perak voters choose. Let’s put a stop to this game of musical chairs, let’s give a fresh mandate to PR so that they will continue to govern in Perak, and let’s show the country that BN has indeed, become irrelevant.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Challenging ADP Targets

Today (February 03), I gave two talks to Fourth Formers of SMK Convent Klang – this being my first time at this school. Although the girls love to encircle me with murmuring choruses of conversational noise – I enjoyed myself because they are generally pretty responsive, and hehe…, they laughed at my jokes also wad.

Dr. Paul Chan has mentioned that he has been trying hard to find cheerful news to share with us, but alas, today’s news is all “gloom and doom”. I know it too. Everywhere, it’s just depressing news, but today, that is the reality.

Just to illustrate: I stumbled upon Yahoo! Tech News innocently enough, and came across today’s posting bearing this awful headline: “Motorola loses $3.6b, suspends dividend, CFO exits”. Reading further, CFO Paul Liska, was appointed only last February – which means that he lasted just under one year. Motorola gave no reason for his departure but I find this alarming still.

Vicky sent me the ADP projected numbers for this year that I must deliver, and told me to “read and weep”! Yes, they are extremely challenging! I am supposed to bring in 250 new students this year. With 20 in the bag for January, I need to have about 115 students for each of the remaining 2 intakes, to meet my targets! What can I say? I just love challenges, especially demanding ones. If I can pull this off, I will fly to the moon! I guess, this aptly describes the challenge the targets represent!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rollercoaster Ride

Today’s (February 02) email from Dr. Paul Chan was very revealing. He confesses that like it or not, he may now be compelled to practice triage. Triage means only so many can be saved, and we have to sacrifice many. He used this analogy: If we have only 10 innoculations left to save 600 people, then 500 others will have to be given up. The reality is that this is what confronts corporations and governments now. And he concludes his email by warning us that from tomorrow, the change (at HICT) will start. Let's belt up because we are going on a rollercoaster ride of our lives! Sadly, as the Boss himself has intimated, some of us may not survive this ride... At the back of my mind, I wonder! I am thinking if Paul Chan will really carry out as he said he would!

The only reason for me to be joyful today was that early this morning (Malaysian time, that is), the Reds did it, they have secured a very precious victory. Liverpool had routed Chelsea 2-0; both goals courtesy of Torres (89th minute and 90th+4th minute). A cliffhanger of a match, they waited late in the game before finishing off Chelsea – and my heart was pounding so fast and the adrenalin was pumping so quickly – I am surprised the suspense didn’t kill me! Well, at least, my faith in Liverpool is still safe and intact, phew!

However, in the SPL, bottom-of-the-table Inverness CT held Celtic to a scoreless draw. Oh well… one of those unfortunate results! Still, Rangers is closing in...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gloom and Doom

Pages of austere news about deteriorating business conditions the world over continue to feed the newspapers, and even Dr. Paul Chan has been unforgiving in keeping us routinely informed about the depressing global economic outlook – it is obvious that he is trying to tell us something, perhaps even forewarning us. I don’t think he is broadcasting news for the heck of it, or even to intentionally depress and dishearten us. I hope it is not true, but I suspect he is telling us to brace ourselves for some severe cost-cutting measures that are going to come. With all the gloom and doom that is blanketing the world, and Malaysia is certainly not enjoying any immunity whatsoever – despite some initially misplaced optimism expressed by inept and fatuous politicians – we have to do our part to ensure our “employer” remains viable and can even survive in an already harsh environment that can quickly turn for the worse, ever so unpredictably. Unless, of course, we did so spectacularly well in our April student recruitment drive, that the superlative student numbers will buy us some respite… We shall see…

Football news is also dismally despairing. Arsenal again was winless in a match that only managed a goalless draw against West Ham – Arsenal is in dire straits, and my faith in the team is badly shaken. But I recall JRR Tolkien saying “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens” and I am not about to say goodbye to Arsenal’s chances yet because the road is still long and winding. After all, since when am I afraid of a little darkness? And neither am I about to give up on Liverpool either…

With the match against Chelsea looming and Liverpool knowing they must win, Rafael Benitez explained his team’s current predicament with an interesting twist of faultless logic: “We know in January we have not won games that we could have won. But the positive news is that January has finished”. And for good measure, he added, “We are eight points better than last season. We are two* points from the top. We are in a fantastic position and I’m sure if we beat Chelsea people will talk in a different way. That’s football” (The New Sunday Times, Malaysia, February 01, 2009, p 72).

* This was of course before Man U beat Everton 1-0, thereby distancing themselves further from Liverpool by 5 points!

And I recollect another quote from a William Hazlitt: “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory”. I must believe. I do believe.