Friday, September 30, 2011

Promo Poster 3

Political Business

Yesterday, Sunway University hosted a Forum on MPs in Conversation touching on Parliamentary Elections and Funding. But this title is misleading – actually the powwow focused only on the issue that pertains to “Financing Politics in Malaysia”. Rasah MP Anthony Loke attended and he represented the opposition. For the BN, we were told that at least four BN MPs were invited but all declined. In the end, former Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid filled that slot. And the third speaker was Universiti Malaya Professor Edmund Terence Gomez. In the audience, there were six faculty members from SUBS and a large contingent of first-year students – not counting members of the Bar Council and the public who also came.

Anyway, there were some interesting statements made by the speakers. Abdul Rashid who spoke first admitted that Thailand and Indonesia are more democratic than Malaysia. The other comment he made was that his wish is actually for the automatic registration of voters. My question is, why only now? Why not when he was in the EC?

Loke came on next and he talked about how elections are funded, especially from DAP’s perspective. This means that they depended on public donations, fund-raising dinners, merchandise/book sales and own money.

Gomez spoke last and he gave us some good insights on the issue of the monetization of politics – he made the claim that “Malaysia is one of the very few countries where parties own corporate enterprises, a trend known as ‘political business’” (i.e. politicians in government use their power to give party members or business associates state-created rents in the form of licences, contracts, subsidies and privatized projects. Funds to acquire these rents are secured through favourable loans from banks owned or controlled by the state and well-connected businesspeople). Of course, he was right and so was his suggestion that public disclosure is fundamental if the role of money in politics is to be made accountable.

Also, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim yesterday said the “Undilah” video was unsuitable for broadcast as it contains “subliminal messages” aimed at influencing viewers. Yet this view is emphatically different from the statement made by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) that the ‘Undilah’ video was impermanently taken off the air as it has yet to receive approval from the film censorship board. Moreover, the latter does not come under Rais’ ministry but the Home Ministry, which of course, will make a decision whether the clip can be shown or not. The order was described as “normal practice” and MCMC maintained that the decision had nothing to do with the clip’s contents! So who do we believe?

But what is amazing is the fact that Pete Teo was allegedly using subliminal messages to subvert Malaysian minds! Imagine that! Teo is not just an accomplished singer-songwriter, film composer and music producer but that if we are to believe Rais, Teo is also a devious manipulator. I recall reading some research that mentioned that subliminal messaging is most effective when the message being conveyed is negative – so this disproves the concern that Rais may have about the said video clip because the message in “Undilah” is positive, i.e. asking Malaysians to vote. It only reinforces the fact that Rais and people like him have taken sudden leave of their senses!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Promo Poster 2

Rejoice Promoters


Yesterday’s tutorial classes for MKT1014 saw constrasting presentations. The teams from Tutorial Groups 1 & 2 were creative – in fact, one group (i.e. Heng Choong Giap, Heng Choong Hou & Khoo Junhao) was outlandish as they came “dressed” for the occasion – see above photo – as they relate a haircare brand, Rejoice to the buyer decision process – while the Tutorial 5 groups dispensed with the bells and whistles but still delivered well on their presentations – Yap Yin Hun, Teh Chuan Hoong & Wong Weng Wai pitched Whisper sanitary pads and Naif Abdat, Tee Sui Sin & Kelvin Teoh promoted Marigold milk. I like my students' enthusiasm.


Last evening, I had the privilege to step into the Petronas Twin Towers – Level 4, Tower 1 to be exact. I didn't want to miss this opportunity since it is not often that I get the chance to enter this iconic building. This was the venue for the Area P4 Humorous Speech & Evaluation contests organized by Pesona Toastmasters Club. I too played a role and that was as a Ballot Counter. There were altogether fourteen contestants and when they spoke, it was really a no-brainer as far as to the identities of the top two winners. Both contests had the same set of champions – Ivan Cheng and Suhana Sidik came in first and second places respectively. And it was a full house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Promoting SUBS Grand Ball 2011

My September 23 posting refers.

Tesco UK Declares War

On Monday, Tesco UK launched the “Big Price Drop” – a £500 million price cuts campaign that involves more than 3,000 everyday foodstuffs. This campaign represents a sharp change of strategy for Tesco, which have relied on promotions and the Clubcard loyalty scheme to lure shoppers – and signals a major re-thinking of Tesco’s price strategy. This is the EDLP (every day low price) strategy and discounters like Wal-Mart have led the EDLP wave and successfully encroached on the turf of supermarkets and other retail formats by advertising the fact that their everyday prices are “always the lowest” to be found.

The EDLP is a wonderful strategy beause it gives consumers peace of mind – they can do away with the endless price comparisons that mark shopping expeditions. This is necessary because frequent price promotions can be bewildering since they erode consumer confidence in the credibility of everyday shelf prices. With an EDLP approach, it is possible to restore price credibility. This is because EDLP is simple and consistent, it may be easier to communicate to consumers and therefore increase the chances of establishing a low price image through advertising. Furthermore, It also reduces managerial costs because it is easy to implement by simply matching or beating the most aggressive local competition. [This assumes, of course, that the retailer has an appropriate cost structure in place].

According to Hoch, Dreze & Purk (1994), “EDLP often is assumed to lower operating costs. These lower costs might be achieved in three primary ways: (a) reduced service and assortment; (b) reduced inventory and warehouse handling costs due to steady and more predictable demand; (c) lower in-store labor costs because of less frequent change-overs in special displays”. Lattin and Ortmeyer (1991) even argue that EDLP can reduce advertising expenses; e.g. Wal-Mart feature advertises in newspapers on a monthly basis, whereas many of their competitors do promotional advertising weeks a year.

Yet, not many retailers are rushing to adopt EDLP. I always believe that using pricing as the strategy is indefensible because it is just not sustainable. Consumer surveys of retail patronage repeatedly have found that location/convenience is the most important factor, followed in order of mention by low prices, assortment, courteous service, quality merchandise, and fresh meat (Arnold, Oum, and Tigert, 1983). Besides, EDLP sacrifices significant retail margins. I pose three questions. Can the sales increases be large enough to offset the reduced margins? Can sales increases maintain or even build dollar profits for the retailer? And finally, whether low price is in itself an important enough attribute to compensate for all the other attributes in order to drive customers into a particular retail location?

Tesco insist that this is not another supermarket PR stunt – they intend to focus on essential foods, with price reductions of between 10% and 30% and the deepest discounts reserved for own-brand products. According to UK’s The Guardian, Tesco had claimed that internal cost savings would help them to absorb the price cuts without hurting profitability, but analysts said 1,000 of the products, including carrots, cheddar cheese and biscuits, were own-label – which could increase the pressure on branded goods manufacturers.

Tesco UK’s chief executive Richard Brasher (left) insists that customers would be net beneficiaries and he.justifies the price offensive by saying: "We knew that we needed to take action on price. Across the country, families are telling us the same thing: their budgets are under real pressure. We're giving customers a more straightforward shop, reducing the number of promotions and putting the emphasis on clear and reliable savings that everyone can benefit from".

This may be so in today’s economic climate but retailers know only too well that they can be profitable charging low prices only when they have low costs.

I don’t believe it is going to work for Tesco because this pricing strategy is already being favored by Walmart-owned Asda – which already rely on high sales volumes coupled with ruthless efficiency.

Asda are also reportedly unmoved. "We ended all price wars with our 10% guarantee," says a spokesperson. "Whatever others do, they can't trump our cast-iron commitment to be 10% cheaper on a comparable grocery shop". Perhaps this is the better strategy?

Tesco are trying out the EDLP strategy only because they have been under constant attack by smaller competitors and it’s time to fight back. Besides they have been spending more time and giving more attention to their overseas markets than defending their home turf.

The other issue to appreciate is that the UK today are facing tough times. The price campaign underscores the weakness of consumer spending in Britain, where shoppers are economising on everything from clothes to groceries as disposable incomes are squeezed by rising inflation, subdued wage growth and austerity measures.

One last question – is this the start of an expensive price war in the UK? If it is, then Tesco will likely emerge victorious because as UK's undisputed supermarket heavyweight champion, they are best geared towards winning this war. I have no doubt that there will be casualties. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Accidental Death Again

I was the Toastmaster for today’s Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting. It has been quite some time since I undertook this role and I approached this evening with some dread. But once I stood behind the lectern, I forgot my nervousness and even managed to erase any uneasiness that might still be lingering. I had succeeded in ensuring that the meeting was bursting with intense energy that infected all those who came. The bountiful infusions of illimitable enthusiasm were self-evident and by the time, I introduced the General Evaluator to take control of the meeting, I was drained. Still, it was a great meeting that delivered good speeches and evaluations. I was particularly happy with Undarmaa Gansukh who as a first-time Table Topics Master did a terrific job and of course, Teoh Lee Lian who served a splendid speech that earned her a Toastmasters ribbon. I give this meeting a score of an 8 over a 10 because it was prodigiously satisfying.

Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbaini had wanted to leave the MACC office but for some bizarre reason, he decided not to use the door. Instead, he chose to creep out of the window, then lost his balance and fell nine meters to his death. At least that was what coroner Aizatul Akmal Maharani wanted Malaysians to believe – according to The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

In his verdict, he had ruled out suicide but had also rejected elements of foul play, saying only that one MACC officer – assistant superintendent Kamal Awang Besar – was negligent for abandoning the Customs man who was a witness in a high-profile raid on the department in March this year. So Malaysians please stop wagging your finger at MACC as if the latter contributed to Ahmad’s death. Just like Teoh Beng Hock, he too encountered an accident! Very unfortunate but well, people do fall from buildings and die!

The Sun newspaper this morning carried this story on their front page and even mentioned that the coroner believed Ahmad Sarbaini had climbed out of the window to escape! According to the brilliant mind of the said coroner, “…forensic experts had found no signs of a struggle” (page 1, lines 22-24). Of course, the word “expert” is used loosely because this is Malaysia after all. But clearly, MACC is not taking responsibility for Ahmad Sarbaini’s death. Yet another MACC tragicomedy!

Armed Guards for Mamak Eateries

I was at Cititel this evening to attend the MidValley Toastmasters meeting. I was tasked to evaluate Christine Ong who delivered an advanced speech but also at Moses Wong’s request, I too gave a CC speech # 7 Research Your Topic titled “Planning to Speak” – and it was evaluated by none other than Christine. Although I was voted the Best Project Speaker, I personally felt that another speaker Geraldyne Chong deserved the accolade because she spoke from the heart. And better still, her “Love” speech was really interesting! A different perspective. Overall, it was a good meeting and I would give it a score of 7 out of a 10.


I find it both alarming and amusing that BN-allied Indian Muslim Congress Malaysia (KIMMA) is contradicting the loud assertions of the Home Minister and even the police that crime is significantly down. Their president, Senator Syed Ibrahim Kader had proposed that mamak restaurants employ armed security guards to deter robberies! In fact, this made front-page news in the local Malay daily, Kosmo! on September 11, 2011.

Crime must be a pressing issue that this man could only think of this one solution – and all because two mamak eateries were robbed on August 28 and September 08, 2011.

Eating out is now hazardous!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Balls!


A grouping calling themselves “OneMillionMoms” is calling for a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s after the company released an irreverently-named new ice cream flavor “Schweddy Balls”.

“The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive,” the pseudo-political grouping issued a statement (Webpage http://onemillionmoms.com/IssueDetail.asp?id=422, accessed September 22, 2011).

The name originated from a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy, owner of a holiday bakery called Season's Eatings. "There are lots of great treats this time of year," Schweddy says. "Zucchini bread, fruitcake, but the thing I most like to bring out at this time of the year are my balls."

He then explains that he sells popcorn balls, cheese balls, rum balls – balls for every taste – and the ball puns proceed for about four minutes. Ben & Jerry's chose to go with fudge-covered rum and malt balls for their flavor. The skit culminates in Baldwin stating that "No one can resist my Schweddy Balls."

So if you read the above, it is not so offensive after all, right? Besides, what’s wrong with the word ‘balls’? In Malaysia, we have fish balls, sotong balls (also called cuttle fish balls), meatballs, chicken rice balls, rice glue balls (“tang yuen”), chana dal sweet balls – and they have not raised eyebrows as far as I know!


"The name is irreverent," says Ben & Jerry's spokesperson Sean Greenwood. "But we've always been about having some irreverence and having some fun... We're not trying to offend people. Our fans get the humor." And I agree. Anyway, the ice cream is being released in a limited batch only.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Employer-attracting Degrees

I spotted this Yahoo! article (webpage http://education.yahoo.net/articles/degrees_that_matter.htm?kid=1IED4) today that highlights degrees that could give you an edge comes graduation. Sure, it is US-biased but it is still pertinent to graduates elsewhere. Anyway, the five college degrees that can attract employers are:

Degree # 1: Bachelor’s in Business Administration

A bachelor's degree in business administration can help students cultivate a variety of business-related skills, such as employee management, customer relations, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship and more.

Why it matters: About 18 percent of the human resources managers surveyed by Challenger, Gray & Christmas stated that candidates with business degrees were in the best position for employment.

Good news! Sunway University has a suite of good business degrees that I know, are appropriate for the demanding job market. Check out this website http://sunway.edu.my/university/.

Degree # 2: Bachelor’s in Computer & Information Sciences

If you're an aspiring computer whiz, consider honing your skills with a bachelor's degree in computer and information sciences, which can teach you how to create systems for finding and storing data.

Why it matters: Technology is one of the specialties currently in highest demand and will remain in demand in the near future, says career expert Laurence Shatkin. The US Department of Labor notes similar findings.

Degree # 3: Master in Business Administration (MBA)

Already have a bachelor's degree, but want to further your leadership and innovation skills? An MBA program, where you'll likely take classes that present students with real-world guidance through case studies and actual business problems, can help.

Why it matters: Opportunities also look bright for MBA grads, who have a 17 percent projected employment increase, according to a 2005 Forbes article, "Best Master's Degrees For Jobs". And according to the US Department of Labor, it's often a preferred degree or requirement for many leadership positions, in a variety of industries.

Degree # 4: Bachelor’s in Health Care Administration

If you're interested in a career in health care, but want to avoid hands-on patient-care, a bachelor's in health care administration could be a great option for you. With this degree, you'll learn all aspects of overseeing health care facilities through courses in financial management, human resources, and policy making.

Why it matters: Health care is among the most desirable higher education routes in the current economy, as skilled professionals in this field are and will remain in demand, says Shatkin.

According to the US Department of Labor, several careers in health care, including health services management, are expected to grow 14 percent or more between 2008 and 2018. And as the health care industry undergoes rapid changes, administrators and managers with health care-specific degrees that prepare them to meet these changes will be increasingly important, says the Department.

Degree # 5: Bachelor’s in Marketing/Communications

A bachelor's degree in marketing or communications could help students develop skill sets relating to identifying customer needs and effectively marketing a product or service to a desired audience.

Why it matters: If you're already media-savvy, and looking for a career path with staying power, a bachelor's degree in marketing or communications could give you that vital extra edge with employers.

The US Department of Labor notes that the marketing and communications fields are among the last to be downsized, even in an economic downturn, because so many companies rely on advertising revenue to stay afloat.

Mahathir's Agenda in Supporting Lynas

On Wednesday, Mahathir Mohamad wrote in his blog that groups opposing the rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan had a political agenda in opposing the project. On Friday, Free Malaysia Today drew attention to a claim made by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) that Mahathir has an ulterior motive for supporting the Lynas project.

This is not hard to figure out since SMSL spokesperson Steven Hang is basing on facts obtained from Bloomberg Businessweek that “Kencana Torsco is involved the design, fabrication, lining, supply, installation, and commissioning of carbon steel and stainless steel tanks worth RM9.1 million for the (Lynas) project.” Guess who is the CEO of Kencana Petroleum of which Kencana Torsco Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary? Yup, Mahathir’s eldest son Mokhzani Mahathir!


Hang further charged that “the only agenda the people have is for a clean and safe e
nvironment to live in.” But for the political elite and the favored business class, it's all about them raking as much money as possible before the country goes bankrupt. And in case some of us forget, it was Idris Jala who sounded this ‘bankruptcy’ warning!



Yesterday, Celtic overcame a determined Inverness Caledonian Thistle side to register a 2-0 win. Joe Ledley fired the hosts ahead in the twenty-eighth minute and then James Forrest added a second on 33 minutes.




In the EPL game between Liverpool and Wolverhampton, the former snatched the lead in fortuitous style in the 11th minute when Charlie Adam's shot was headed into his own goal by the latter’s Roger Johnson. Liverpool’s second came when Jose Enrique's long ball over the top was fired in at close range by Luis Suarez (38). Steven Fletcher cut the deficit for Wolves, tucking in Stephen Hunt's cross (49) but that was all Wolves could do as the Reds stubbornly held on to secure the hard-earned three points with this 2-1 victory.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers

Today, I was at KL’s Banker’s Club to attend the Premier Advanced Toastmasters meeting. I delivered speech # 1 from the Speaking to Inform manual titled “Lifelong Learning”. I thought I did quite well and both my opening and closing were superb. But at the same time, I acknowledged that I received very good feedback from both Helen and Benjamin and I actually agree with them. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect speech and I am still learning to speak well! Geoff Andrew, the club’s Vice-President Education screened the two winning speeches from the 2011 World Championship of Public Speaking, i.e. Elliot’s and Kwong’s speeches. But what was meaningful to the members and guests was that there was an open evaluation on these speeches. Generally, all – well, those of us who spoke up – agreed that Kwong delivered the better speech but it was Elliot who pipped him at the post. I too went through the experience of losing narrowly to another contestant and so, if Kwong was filled with regret, I know how he felt.

The other offering this morning that kept me glued to my seat was when Jonathan Low, Immediate Past President of the Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers and ex-Toastmaster was invited to talk about “Moving beyond Toastmasters speeches to professional presentations and Keynotes”. It’s about moving into the professional speaking circuit and getting paid for it! I am beginning to get real interested in MAPS! Still, overall, I would give this meeting a 6 out of a 10.

In the afternoon, I raced to Taylor’s University Pondside Campus to attend the Division B Humorous Speech & Evaluation contests where I was a Ballot Counter. I was also there to root for the two challengers from Taman Indrahana.

In the Humorous Speech contest, my personal vote would have been given to Chong Mei Wan but sadly, she wasn’t placed. The Taman Indrahana contender didn’t win either. In the Evaluation contest, only two participants impressed me, i.e. Ng Sok Teng and Ng Jean Hui in that order. But the official results showed that they came in seco
nd place and third place respectively. I was disappointed with the judging but having said that, I am still very proud of Jean, the Taman Indrahana hopeful.

The widow of customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed, Maziah Manap (left), on Friday accused the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of persisting in their attempt to defame her husband as a corrupt official (Webpage http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/09/23/sarbaini-widow-lists-proofs-of-macc-deception/, posted September 23, 2011).

Meanwhile, the decision on the inquest into Sarbaini’s death is set for September 26. The month-long inquest which began on July 4, 2011 saw thirty-four witnesses testify on the events leading up to his death.

2011 World Championship Speeches

The 2011 World Championship of Public Speaking, hosted by Toastmasters International in Las Vegas came and went. Congratulations to all contestants, especially the victors: Jock Elliott (1st Place), Kwong Yue Yang (2nd Place) and Scott Pritchard (3rd Place).


Left to right: Kwong Yue Yang, Jock Elliott and Scott Pritchard

Personally, from the three winning speeches that I listened and watched, I liked Kwong’s speech (“Fortune Cookie”) the best and this is followed by Pritchard's speech (“Roscoe’s Words”) and Elliot's speech ("Just So Lucky").

Friday, September 23, 2011

Keep October 07 Free!


Sunway University Business School is having a Grand Ball 2011 – a maiden effort – and I am encouraging my students to attend because it is going to be a real blast of an evening! Aiyaa, it’s only RM120 per person! So what are you waiting for? I heard through the grapevine that a band of superheroes are coming!

Yesterday, I had reported about the alleged robbery by three senior MACC officers. Some reports that I had read referred to it as extortion. Anyway, this trio of inept people surrendered to the police on September 16, 2011 but their two accomplices and the loot amounting to $310,000 went missing. I no longer wonder why MACC is incompetent!

A Really Crazy Place

Bolehland is getting to be a really crazy place because braggadocio and paranoia run free and wild in this lugubrious land we call Malaysia!

Braggadocio because on Tuesday, Najib Razak held an Aidilfitri function at his official residence at Seri Perdana for close to 300 members of the Association of Former Members of Social Welfare Development (or PBAKM, their Malays acronym) where he gave an election pep talk. But what he said really showed his smart-alecky arrogance!

“This is not my house... this is the residence of the UMNO and BN Prime Minister. We must defend Putrajaya because our future and that of our grandchildren’s depends on UMNO and the BN...” Najib had said (Webpage http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=614622, published September 20, 2011) and this was carried in a Bernama news report titled “Government Doesn’t Know How to Cheat the People – Najib”.

OMG, what is Najib saying? He has gone overboard again! Najib’s claims are preposterous, incredible and outrageous! The fact is, Seri Perdana, like the rest of Malaysia, belongs to the Malaysian people and we choose who occupies Seri Perdana.

Let me repeat! This country rightfully belongs to all Malaysians and we should remember that when the time comes, we must be responsible and put the most suitable people in Putrajaya. So that rules out UMNO and/or the BN bozos.

Paranoia because the Undilah video promoting the right to vote has been taken off the air by local broadcasters despite a push for greater democracy because it contains opposition figures and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s speech talking about Malaysia having problems. See my posting of this video on September 17.

The Malaysian Insider learnt that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) directed local broadcasters this week not to use the public service announcement (PSA) produced by Malaysian musician Pete Teo just days after its launch on Friday, September 16.

“MCMC emailed both Astro and Media Prima Bhd about the issue, telling them the video clip should not be aired because Ku Li speaks about the country having problems and also because it features opposition leaders,” an industry source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to Tengku Razaleigh by his popular nickname.

Apart from Tengku Razaleigh, the 4:38-minute video also features Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong, Deputy Health Minister Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin and opposition figures Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

I agree with Teo that the move to not play the video is fundamentally undemocratic in intention. I guess some sections of the UMNO hierarchy are in self-denial. I am assuming that Najib is still in reform mode or am I wrong here? Anyway, what are these people so afraid of? Thank God, there’s YouTube! Thanks to UMNO, more Malaysians will check out this video clip! And maybe there will be enough of us to bring back democracy when polling day arrives!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jimmy Choo Replicas

This week, my MKT1014 Principles of Marketing tutorial groups began making their presentations. They were tasked to choose a brand that is not a market leader and relate it to a specific topic from their ongoing lectures. This particular Tutorial 3 group (i.e. Lee Wai Chien, Lee Chak Wei and Leong Sheng Yik) focused on SWOT analysis and narrowing their presentation to just one component, ‘Threats’. The brand they selected was Jimmy Choo and one fact that they revealed that was interesting was the existence of a website (www.replicashoes.co) that has developed a “collection of replica Jimmy Choo shoes that is affordable and true to the original Jimmy Choo designs”. E.g. Jimmy Choo Strappy Sandals - the original and the replica and their respective prices:


Wow! People are now shamelessly copying!


Ellie Low of Metro Toastmasters Club was kind enough to give me a speaking slot and today, I drove to Vistana Hotel in KL’s Jalan Lumut, off Jalan Ipoh to deliver my advanced speech # 3, “The Demonstration Talk” from the Speaking to Inform manual, titled “The IS=2D Formula”. My speech was basically about how any Toastmaster can deliver a 5-7 minute speech in quick time. Let’s examine my formula. IS is Impromptu Speaking and the two Ds refer to mental discipline and mental dexterity. In short, it is about mentally preparing a speech without having to put pen to paper. It sounds simple and straightforward, right?

And so I proceeded to outline a 5-step process: (1) Think of a speech title, (2) Cerebrate a message to accompany the title, (3) Identify key points (they become your content), (4) Personalize the speech (i.e. embed anecdotes that come from your own collection of personal stories), and (5) Develop an appropriate opening and closing. I ended this speech by challenging the audience to try this method! I contended that if you can demonstrate discipline and dexterity, then you can quickly construct a speech by faithfully following just these five moves. The wonder of it all is that you can develop a speech in less than 30 minutes! Isn’t that great?

Yee Kim Foong was my Evaluator and he gave me some good pointers to improve further, i.e. my speech title could be more reflective of my content and I could use a better visual aid. I had used a flipchart to demonstrate this innovative method instead.

It was great to see good friends Shukur, Stephen, Khoo, Yee, Janis, Victor and Helen again and you know what? My speech was directed at the right audience because I was addressing experienced Toastmasters. It was a great meeting and I would give it a score of 8 out of a 10.

Alleged MACC Thieves

Three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers arrested by the police for allegedly robbing money changers of almost RM1 million in US currency at KLIA last Thursday have been relieved of their duties, so said IGP Ismail Omar yesterday (The Sun, September 22, 2011, p 02).

Isn’t this further proof that MACC is really rotten to the core? A revamp is urgently needed. And while we’re at it, charge those involved in causing Teoh Beng Hock’s death – read my posting dated July 26, 2011. Can you blame the public if we look upon MACC as a lair of thugs and thieves?

It was really nice to know Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard made his comeback (in the 75th minute actually) after six months on the sidelines as they came through a potentially hazardous Carling Cup third round tie at Brighton unscathed. Craig Bellamy opened the scoring with a composed finish (7) and played a part in Liverpool's second goal as Dirk Kuyt confirmed their place in the next round draw in the eighty-first minute. Ashley Barnes replied for Brighton with a 90th minute penalty. Final score: 2-1.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mat Sabu Charged

I was at 1 Sentral in Kuala Lumpur this evening to be the General Evaluator for the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Toastmasters meeting. I was visibly impressed with the quality of speeches and more so, the evaluations. Two persons who stood out were Thisha and Chan Xiao Ching. Benny Chia deserves special mention because he has been instrumental in nurturing PwC Toastmasters all this while. I definitely enjoyed the meeting and it merited an 8 out of a 10.

This morning, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu was charged with criminal defamation for allegedly glorifying communist guerrillas. If found guilty of the offence under Section 500 of the Penal Code, the PAS leader faces up to two years jail and/or a fine. So what if there were 1,000 police reports lodged against Mat Sabu? They certainly do not justify a charge to be made against a Malaysian for just expressing his opinion. In fact, Mat Sabu’s prosecution showed that the government continues to overlook important areas of democratic reform - in spite of Najib's boast that he wants to make Malaysia the best democracy in the world! Once a bull-shitter, always a bull-shitter!

Mat Sabu Arrested

Last night I attended the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club Speechcraft program, where we focus on educating new members the intricacies of preparing and delivering speeches from the Competent Communication manual. This is a monthly ten-session program designed to build their self-confidence and providing them with the necessary guidance in order to get them ready to deliver their speeches in accordance with the respective speech's objectives.

Yesterday was Session 2 and the spotlight was naturally on CC speech # 2: Organize Your Speech; the lead speaker being Lim Thian Seng. [I missed Session 1 because I was tied up with judging duty]. Anyway, I was one of at least eight facilitators. All together, there were six speakers and I was tasked to evaluate Teoh Lee Lian’s speech titled “My Other Identity”. She was voted the Best Project Speaker. This is a good initiative by the club and special mention must be made to Chrristine Ngiam for putting this program together. I am positive members will benefit immensely.

It’s the height of zany absurdity when police arrested PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu last night for allegedly demeaning policemen attacked by the communists in Bukit Kepong in 1950 (The Sun, September 21, 2011, p 03). All Mat Sabu did was to give his version of this incident – read my posting dated September 05, 2011 – and now he is in hot soup. Does this mean that we cannot question history, even if that history is flawed? Who decides whose interpretation of history is correct? Why are we assuming that the history as we know it today is actually accurate? So expressing an opinion on a historical issue is criminal?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blair Brown-nosing Gaddafi

The Sun today carried the welcomed news that charges have been dropped against the thirty PSM activists including the six who were detained earlier under the Emergency Ordinance (p 03). Actually, they were given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. This means that they can be charged (again) with the same offence in the future.

But this doesn’t change the fact that the six were at first remanded for waging war against the King, and then, subsequently, they were charged for being in possession of subversive documents.

The authorities cannot now pretend that an injustice did not occur. Where’s the apology? What about restitution?


Letters and emails found in Tripoli have been exposed by UK’s The Sunday Telegraph, to show that former British prime minister, Tony Blair had held secret talks with Muammar Gaddafi. The correspondences between Blair's office, the British ambassador in Tripoli and the Libyan ambassador in London have given rise to grave concern over possible conflicts of interest regarding Blair’s many roles as Middle East peace envoy, philanthropist and business consultant.

It was also reported that Blair was flown to Libya twice at Gaddafi's expense on one of the former dictator's private jets – visiting him in June 2008 and April 2009. And as recently as June 2010, Blair had another private meeting with Gaddafi.

Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, said: "Blair is clearly using his Downing Street contacts to further his business interests" (The Telegraph, September 17, 2011).

This is not so surprising because last year, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had made the sensational claim that Blair is an adviser to Gaddafi (Webpage http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284132/Tony-Blair-special-adviser-dictator-Gaddafis-son.html, published June 05, 2010). The Libyan dictator’s son said Blair had secured a consultancy role with a state fund that managed the country's £65 billion of oil wealth and Saif even described him as a “personal family friend”.

What’s more, it has even been brought to notice that Blair has made a fortune since leaving Downing Street through speaking engagements and consultancy deals largely set up in the Middle East and the US. His personal wealth is estimated at anywhere between £20 million and £60 million (Webpage http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8771192/Libya-Tony-Blair-and-Col-Gaddafis-secret-meetings.html, posted September 17, 2011). He is certainly not the goody two-shoes that he has made himself out to be! He is a fake and a hypocrite.

Gillard Couldn't Muster Support for Swap Plan

I was at the Money & You Toastmasters meeting and I am giving it a score of 8 over 10. They started on time, the quality of the speeches and evaluations was splendid and the general mood of the meeting was positively pleasing. It made my time very worthwhile because today, many Toastmasters clubs have meetings that are cheerless and draggy. At least Money & You Toastmasters know how to inject fun into their meetings besides ensuring that they focus on enhancing members’ communication capabilities.

The Australian Government had the gall to try to resurrect the asylum-seeker swap deal with Malaysia by proposing to amend the Migration Act. Julia Gillard leads a minority government which depends on the Greens for support. The Greens refused and Labor was forced to look to the opposition for co-operation. But Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott similarly opposed the proposed changes claiming they strip away human rights protections provided by a 60 year-old United Nations convention on refugees.

A former Liberal immigration minister Amanda Vanstone had already cast doubt on the ability of the Malaysia deal to thwart people smugglers. Under that arrangement, up to 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat will be transferred to Malaysia in exchange for Australia accepting 4000 properly processed refugees.

"It's just not going to work," Vanstone insisted, adding people smugglers would continue to ship asylum seekers to Australia until the 800 figure was reached.

Australia's asylum policy has been in crisis since a court ruled a plan to swap refugees with Malaysia unlawful. This means Gillard will not have her way and I am happy knowing this!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Prove it, Najib!

Most Malaysians are reacting warily to Najib’s surprise announcements on the repeal of the ISA and other things. Can you blame them? Even I am suspicious that Najib actually became enlightened and decided to throw away some of the instruments of control that keep him and his BN goons in power.

Lim Kit Siang told Najib yesterday to revoke the ban on Bersih 2.0 and drop all charges against those arrested in connection with the outlawed coalition before the prime minister can claim of wanting to be the best democratic system in the world. And what Lim said, makes sense! If Najib is really sincere, why repeal only some of the laws? Why not do away with all tyrannical laws? The Universities & University Colleges Act (UUCA). The Emergency Ordinance (EO).

But on the same day, I also read Muhyiddin’s statement that “ISA gone but other laws remain”! This sure sounds like a threat to me! And what about Chua Soi Lek’s comment on Thursday itself that “Controls needed for online media”? They are not in sync with Najib’s announcements! It makes me wonder if Najib is in control or his mindless foot soldiers are saying stupid things because they have yet to grasp Najib’s “good intentions”? Or maybe, they know Najib is posturing only?

Okay lah – I did say I will wait and see! I hope Najib was not putting on an act in front of 800 cheerleaders! Maybe, he has begun to prepare for a career outside of politics – as a stand-up comedian? Harith Iskandar, kindly make way for Najib Razak!

In football, there’s only bad news. Rangers prevailed in the season's first Old Firm derby to move four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League, the Ibrox side winning 4-2. And down south, Liverpool played horribly and deservedly lost 0-4 to Tottenham! To say I was embarrassed is to put it mildly.

QPR Shirt Sponsorship Deal


Image credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2036478/QPR-seal-sponsorship-deal-Malaysia-Airlines-AirAsia.html

Image credit: http://www.qpr.co.uk/page/Gallery/0,,10373~2448250,00.html

It was only yesterday that I wrote about the MAS-AirAsia deal that has everybody in Malaysia shaking their heads in befuddled amazement. Well, today, you will be similarly mystified. EPL team Queens Park Rangers (QPR) got a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal from two airlines. Thanks to the sly fox that is Tony Fernandes – he claims to be a West Ham fan – who took over QPR after he bought out major shareholder Bernie Ecclestone and former Formula 1 boss Flavio Briatore last month.

Malaysia Airlines will appear on the home kit for two years, while Air Asia features on the west London side's two away kits. The club did not reveal the exact valueof the 'multi-million pound' deal though. Malaysia’s The Edge had indicated on September 15, 2011 that unconfirmed reports have indicated that MAS may have committed over £3 million (RM14.6 million) for the QPR jersey sponsorship. In contrast, AirAsia announced to Bursa Malaysia on Monday that it had committed some £500,000 for the QPR sponsorship and highlighted that the transaction was a related party transaction (RPT) given that Tony Fernandes has interest in both AirAsia and QPR.

MAS is getting a lot of flak for the sponsorship arrangement and why not? They’re losing money and yet, they’re willing to throw more money on a football team that just got promoted to play with the big boys in the EPL after an absence of fifteen years. Obviously, MAS has been suckered! I can hear Tony Fernandes laughing at the foolishness of the MAS bigwigs and I can also imagine the Khazanah people going beetroot!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Questionable Deal

I was at Management House in Jalan Ampang this morning for the MIMKL Toastmasters meeting. It was great to see Philip Wong (fellow Toastmaster from KL Advanced Toastmasters Club) making a rare appearance as the Toastmaster-of-the-Day. As for me, I took on the role of the Table Topics Evaluator because Selaine couldn’t make it at the very last minute. This meeting scored an 8 out of a 10 because the conduct of the meeting and the quality of the speeches generally met my expectations.

National investment firm Khazanah brokered a surprise deal on August 09, 2011 where they will swap 20 percent of their MAS stake for 10 percent of AirAsia. Details are still sketchy but if I read the public statements correctly, they’re hoping that Tony Fernandes can use his so-called Midas touch to turn around the loss-making national carrier. Does this mean that Idris Jala failed in his job when he helmed MAS? Doesn’t this seem like Tony Fernandes has hit the jackpot because he surrenders a 10 percent stake of his heavily-indebted budget carrier for 20 percent stake of the ailing national carrier, knowing full well that the government will not allow MAS to go under?

I wonder, who is bailing out who? Sure, MAS is bleeding profusely but AirAsia is not exactly in the pinkest of health either. If you can recall the latter owed airport taxes to the tune of more than RM125 million since their inception until 2010. And Malaysia Airports, which is also part of Khazanah’s portfolio, gave a generous discount of some 30 percent to AirAsia when the former should have demanded for full payment with interests. After all, the latter’s passengers did pay airport taxes, didn't they? But now, AirAsia has been made out to look like a white knight for MAS. Something is not right, I daresay.

Anyway, from this deal, a monopoly will emerge, As PAS research department head Dzulkefly Ahmad said “Monopolies are the single largest stumbling block in the process to reform the Malaysian economy”. He added that monopolies are distortions that concentrate the wealth of the economy into the hands of a chosen few. Because of the lack of fair competition, monopolies see little need to improve the quality of their products or services.

Dzulkefly pointed out existing ‘monopolies’, such as Media Prima’s stranglehold on the terrestrial electronic media, Telekom Malaysia’s grasp on the Malaysian Internet ‘backbone’ infrastructure and similar monopolies over sugar, rice and flour have been given to BN ‘cronies’.

I know that we won’t hear the last of this MAS-AirAsia debate. Too many questions and no satisfactory answers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Undilah

Third Gender Option

Under guidelines released Thursday, Australian passports will now give citizens three gender options – male (M), female (F) and indeterminate (X) – in an effort to curb discrimination against transgender and intersex Australians as they travel.

Advocates say the law reform is significant: While Canada and the United States permit gender changes on passports, the Australian ruling is the first to go beyond M and F categories.

Advertising agency director Austen Zecha expressed his sincere regret to Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen in open court for making libelous statements against her. The former, a director of advertising agency TBWA-ISC Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Integrated Strategic Communications Sdn Bhd (ISC) had given a radio interview on March 18 this year, in the presence of one Noelle Lim, that was defamatory to her.

The latter had filed a lawsuit on April 14 claiming that the words uttered by Zecha during the interview implied that she, through her agent, solicited a bribe to ensure that the defendant and/or ISC were awarded an advertising contract for which there was a pending public tender.

Impressive Contestants

Thursday was the Joint G3-G4 Area Humorous Speech & Evaluation Contests at AFC House, Bukit Jalil. I must say that except for the fact that we started late – I was impressed with the contests. For a start, it was well-organized (Lorna Leong and her team from AFC Toastmasters Club did a fabulous job) and it was a full house! (There were easily about seventy-plus people who came to witness the event). More importantly, I was overawed by the speeches and evaluations! And I am not talking about just the winners but also those who weren’t placed. These two speakers stuck out memorably – Monash’s Lee Seng Fong and MidValley’s Leung Wan Choong. Even the test speaker, Karen Cheah (Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club) who was notified at the eleventh hour, performed admirably. I must admit that I gushed with pride at these talented speakers who collectively made this evening so unforgettable!

Anyway, in the Humorous Speech contest for Area G3, the winners were Chang Kit Ti (Champion), Vincent Liew (First Runner-up) and Chong How Yee (Second Runner-up). In the Evaluation contest also for Area G3, the winners were Chang Kit Ti (Champion), Christine Ong (First Runner-up) and Jacy Wee (Second Runner-up). In Area G4, only one club participated and so the reps from AFC Toastmasters Club, i.e. Tong Fong and Jocelyn will join the victors from Area G3 to compete in the Division G contests. [As at Area-level, the champion and first runner-up of the respective Area G3 contests qualified to participate].

Friday, September 16, 2011

Construction Works Begin

Work finally started on the Sunway campus this week. I am not referring to the Sunway Postgraduate School or the Sunway International School because that is already work in progress but rather the Sunway University academic block and two-storey basement car park. Check out the photos of the greenery that will disappear soon to make way for the hustle-bustle of construction activity at the site:

Celtic's Europa League group campaign opened with a 0-2 defeat as they failed to test Atletico Madrid in Spain on Thursday. Falcao took advantage of some slack marking to head the home side ahead from a third-minute corner. And Atletico put the game beyond Celtic when Diego Costa ran on to Arda Turan's cut-back to shoot home.

Celtic’s only decent shots at goal came when Gary Hooper had an early effort blocked and, early in the second half, Ki Sung-yueng's powerful drive had to be tipped over the bar by Thibaut Courtois. A poor game from Celtic.

Najib Goes Fishing


Najib Razak announced yesterday the repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and the three Emergency Declarations when both the Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat have their next sitting. Also he will do away with annual printing and publishing permits with permits that can be cancelled if regulations are flouted. And the Police Act would be amended to allow for freedom of assembly according to international norms, although street protests would still be outlawed. In the same breath, he said that new laws will be enacted to protect the peace, harmony and security of the country.Interestingly, Najib acknowledged in his address to the nation that was broadcast live on all local television stations that the move to increase civil liberties was “risky, but we are doing this for our survival.” And for good measure, he added “No individual will ever be detained simply due to political ideology”.

Ex-ISA detainee and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng called this “an epochal move” but cautioned that the federal government should not try to dress up the old laws in new security laws being proposed by Najib.

I find Najib’s announcements rather odd because they were made before television cameras to a studio audience of eight hundred and not in the hallowed halls of Parliament. It gives the impression that this is a public relations exercise and all we are going to see are merely the re-branding and re-packaging of these laws. From what I read, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Police Act are not going to free us from the shackles of oppression because there are caveats in place. A rose by any other name is still a rose, isn’t it? Methinks the devil is in the details and we will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, talk is cheap.

I cannot help but suspect that these announcements were made to fish for votes. It further demonstrates how desperate Najib is. Whatever the case may be, I wonder why he did what he did on the eve of Malaysia Day? It somehow stains this special day because it reminds Malaysians that in this day and age, a country that is purportedly a parliamentary democracy is still weighed down by a slew of draconian laws that control a population who have ceased to believe in the BN government.

Malaysia Day, 2011



Today, we celebrate Malaysia Day because this is the one day that unites all Malaysians!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Malaya Was Never a British Colony

On Tuesday, I attended a Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting after a month’s absence. It was another great meeting and everybody enjoyed it tremendously. I was the grammarian and I have to admit that the standard of English was only average. Still, there were great speeches and evaluations. In the former, Mahan is going great guns and I believe he is on the right track while in the latter, Ng Jean Hui was in her element and she was deservedly voted Best Evaluator. She too has improved and she can only get better!

And on Wednesday, I had to go to Ernst & Young in Bandar Pusat Damansara for the Area G2 Humorous Speech & Evaluation Contests. Eight participants in total and all save one delivered good speeches and evaluations. I also enjoyed the test speaker’s presentation because he was funny and he even had a table teeming with props to accompany his speech! Definitely, an interesting and novel approach! Oh yes, I was there as the Timekeeper.

Anyway, the winners for the Humorous Speech Contest were Leong Kok Wah from Malaysian Insurance Institute Toastmasters Club (Champion) and Roger McGovern from Speecom Toastmasters Club (First Runner-up), and for the Evaluation Contest, the victors were Lee Chen Choon from Ernst & Young Toastmasters Club (Champion) and Hadzrin Shah from UEM Toastmasters Club (First Runner-up). All four will proceed to the Division G contests scheduled for October 08, 2011.

National Professors’ Council (MPN) member Professor Dr Zainal Kling (left) has made a startling statement that Malaya (the percursor to Malaysia) was never a British colony but a “protectorate” and he even went so far as to maintain that the British advisors in fact, acted as if they were the rulers instead of the Malay Sultans. I have always believed that stupidity is very contagious and so Mahathir Mohamad also came out strongly to give support to this contention. For the information of readers, MPN is one of those bodies the government just loves to create in order to provide a platform for half-baked and irrelevant academics to parade their bovine stupidity.

According to this dumbo, only Singapore, Malacca and Penang had been colonized over the past 400 years, with the exception of the period between 1946 and 1947, when Malaya was under Japanese occupation during World War II. So if I was to accept this as a fact in history – I said, if, didn’t I? – then Malaysia… oops, Malaya shouldn’t be celebrating Merdeka on August 31! Only Malacca and Penang can do so! In fact, Malacca is inextricably linked to Merdeka because it was here on February 20, 1956 that Tunku Abdul Rahman made the Merdeka announcement – that’s why you can find the Merdeka Monument in Malacca itself!

Now this is momentous because tomorrow is September 16, the day when Malaysia was actually formed way back in 1963. That is why we call it Malaysia Day, a day that is meaningful to all Malaysians! It is okay for Malaccans and Penangites to reminisce about August 31 but really, we should just stick to one date, i.e. September 16.

In Malaysia, stupidity is proudly promoted for a good reason, that, dunces like Zainal can get due recognition! Not to worry, folks, we produce an abundance of dullards and they are all clamoring to show off their asininity! Malaysia Boleh!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lessons from Everything Everywhere


Everything Everywhere, the merged UK businesses of France Telecom (i.e. Orange) and Deutsche Telekom (i.e. T-Mobile) have installed a new boss, Olaf Swantee (above photo).

I can glean a few lessons that my Business students should pay heed to.

First, Swantee replaced Tom Alexander – the latter stepped down just a year after the company was formed. His parting words were very revealing: “It was time to evolve from the ‘1990s obsession’ with customer numbers and ‘reward loyalty, usage and tenure’ instead”.

I am saying it again, customer retention is more important than customer acquisition. This is not something new yet marketers don't give it the due respect. So too the other important marketing concepts like focussing on (1) creating customer satisfaction – delivering superior quality products and services, and (2) building brand equity – the sum of the intangible assets of a brand. [Factors that contribute to this can include name awareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty, the associations consumers have towards the brand, trademarks, packaging, and marketing channel presence].

But even as we recognize all of the above as important, most times, the single-minded focus is still on sales numbers! We give lip-service to the rest. And unhappily, we give a lot less attention to creating and maintaining relationships. I believe Tom Alexander was referring to this aspect of marketing that was somewhat neglected.

For those who don’t know, the growth in relationship marketing was fueled by the writings of management consultants. In 1993, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers published The One-to-One Future. Taking inspiration from mass customization manufacturing technologies and applying them to marketing communications, Peppers and Rogers encouraged a one-to-one focus on “share of customer” rather than the mass marketer’s “share of market.” This was based on the marketer’s ability to communicate a unique message to the customers based on the company’s knowledge of their interests. They claimed that this one-to-one interaction with customers would lead to improved lifetime value.

Frederick Reichheld further developed the importance of building customer commitment in his 1996 book The Loyalty Effect. He focused on the cost of customer defection and set the stage for the problem by claiming “many major corporations now lose and have to replace half their customers in five years [...]” (Reichheld 1). Using examples from financial service companies, advertising agencies, and manufacturing firms, Reichheld claimed that even small improvements in customer retention can as much as double company profits. This is because (a) it costs less to serve long-term customers, and (b) loyal customers will pay a price premium.

So, now you know why I consider relationship marketing to be important. To win customers and to keep them – marketers must forge one-to-one relationships with their customers. The problem is that this is not something that management can instruct as a SOP – it has to be free-willed, meaning, within the organization, our own people must individually and collectively embrace the vision and the values of the organization so that they embody this vision and values and that, in turn, they engage their customers in meaningful acts of studied spontaneity.

Second, based on a July 28, 2011 report in UK’s The Telegraph, the company seeks to make £73 million more of efficiency savings by the end of the year. Swantee then decided to cull his executive team and he did it on his first day at work! Finance director Richard Moat, chief commercial officer Andrew Ralston and chief change officer Linda Kennedy were among six senior managers who announced their resignations on September 01, 2011, as Swantee disclosed the management shake-up. I am assuming Swantee made a business decision that was in the company’s best interests and he left no room for personal sentiments. After all, Moat and Ralston were the architects of the merger between Orange and T-mobile that created Everything Everywhere.

We can debate about the merits of executive termination and whether Swantee had made a wise decision. I acknowledge that many companies are top-heavy and in trying times, it is important to dispose those whom we consider as surplus requirements. Most times, most senior managers are surplus, aren’t they? I remember when I was with HICT not too long ago – and when the crunch times hit us – the ordinary staff members were guillotined with pay cuts but the high-salaried senior mangers were spared. Good staff members became disgruntled and one by one, they left until the once-proud Klang-based college became almost an empty shell. This carried on for at least a year and leadership was sorely missed. [Footnote: HICT was a lost cause and so the HELP management decided to re-posiiton the college and it transformed into the HELP College of Arts and Technology].

I mentioned that senior managers are surplus only because they may know how to manage (or at least they think they do) but in essence, they don’t know how to lead. I am a firm believer that the best managers are leaders. I won’t even bother to argue that without leadership in organizations, we will inherit a disengaged workforce – one that is not motivated to succeed and one that is not sustainable at all in the long-term.

I recommend that we go back to basics. I suggest managers must not be afraid to step forward and face the leadership challenge. Kouzes & Posner (2007) talked about how leaders mobilize others to want to get extraordinary things done in organizations. In today’s demanding business environment that swells with crowded competition – it is not enough to just do things; we must do great things, even extraordinary things. And if managers are incapable, then they would fail as leaders. And when they do fail, they shouldn’t be warming the seats anymore! It will be time to get rid of them!

So, leadership is really about the practices leaders use to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards. It is about leadership that creates the climate in which people turn challenging opportunities into remarkable successes. When there is an absence of leadership, and the situation is made worse by a business that is bleeding – we know we have to embark on cost-cutting. When this happens, it makes sense to discard managers and we should start from the top! Caution: Cutting costs is to be done only as part of a turnaround blueprint – we should desist from doing it as an ad-hoc measure.

Anyway, Everything Everywhere is in a mature market and quickly finding themselves in deep shit. So the departure of a significant tranche of senior management may or may not exacerbate matters but whatever the case may be, I would plead that this was necessary. I also recognize that this will be particularly sensitive for the company, which is still smarting after being exposed for using a "traffic light" system to inform staff about redundancies. Last year the company informed thousands of staff about their potential redundancies by displaying red, yellow or blue lights at mass meetings to signify different risk levels of particular positions. Now, isn’t that stupid or what?

Now that I know this company a little better, I would claim that Swantee was right in doing what he did!