Saturday, January 19, 2013

Focus on Problems to Solve or Benefits to Enjoy...

As GE13 draws nearer for Malaysia, the campaigns ( overt or covert) become more intense and heated.There seemed to be two competing focus of attention highlighted by the leadership on both sides of the platform, and one common malady. That malady is of course, character assassination, using verbal attacks on the personality of the leaderships. to impinge or discredit the party they represent. That has been going on election after election. Malaysian politics never seemed to rise above that level, although the Malaysia public may have become sick of it.

There are so many national issues that need to be dealt with and yet the media is often filled with personal attacks and allegations on the character of political leaders. Of course, there are truths about character deficiencies and even moral turpitude which must be told. But there is a limit, beyond which, the allegations or criticisms become nothing but pure insult. Do our politicians know and respect this limit, I wonder.Even bedroom habits and preferences sometime enter the public forum....

The two competing focus of attention seemed to be on the urgent socio-economic issues facing the nation in this transformation period and the need to deal with them, as opposed to the need to retain the peace and benefits of development that we've enjoyed so far without making any fundamental changes.

It seemed to me (and hopefully I'm wrong) that the current leadership is focussing too much attention on the latter. The public is flooded with reminders on what has been achieved so far, the progress, comfort and luxuries that have been brought in by the past and present government, the peace and stability so far enjoyed, the new cash and financial assistance given to families with an income less than RM3000 per month, the assistance given to school children etc, and are duly warned that they should not jeopardize all those by making an irresponsible decision in the next election.

Of course, all governments must rest on its laurel and track records to win the election. But harping on them all the time without bringing up the issues that the country faces in the near future, the problem that have arisen out of current development through no fault of the government but merely as a natural product of social changes, and previous faults or shortcomings (to be admitted as an act of humility) which need to be remedied, will raise a question of complacency and self-indulgence.
It must be mentioned that every time the current leadership praises itself and what it's doing, some members of the public will sniff and snort. Certainly there are weaknesses in the current state of affairs, and that's why a political transformation was required. What changes are therefore to be made, and what has been seen to be done?Or are we going to have more of the same thing?
I certainly think that the government should reduce its self=praises and smugness and get on to some serious self-criticisms, to ensure the public that 'complacency' is not in the government's vocabulary. Self-praise can only make the public more suspicious. Go to the villages today and one can see a lot of impressive development. Yes, but there are villages where the chidden's playing ground are overgrown with "lalang", drains and ditches are clogged and smelly, roads are full of potholes, etc. When you see this and the complacent smiles of the headmen, then listen to the self-praises of the top leadership in government, we know that he is not getting all the information that he should from the ground level. This has been the cause of BN's defeat in the past and should be immediately corrected, over and above the political transformation that is taking place.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Working knowledge, Work Discipline and Work Attitude

All of us can work in the field that we have a certain level of skill we've been trained in or acquired through work experience. The skill and knowledge level is reflected by the remuneration scheme we've been admitted into.

But not all workers in the same remuneration level produce the same kind of work output in terms of quantity and quality. Even after going trough the same training, work experience and technical equipment. Why is that so? More interestingly, some workers with less experience and training or even academic qualification can produce better work output than those with better training and higher qualifications.

After years of observation, reflection and reading the management literature I can now distinguish three distinct aspects of work i.e., work knowledge and experience, work discipline and work attitude. Yes, administration and management gurus have known about this and discussed these aspects of work before. But always took them together and not single them out as separate abilities, requiring separate training and incentives.

We've often heard and seen workers who are very good at their work but observe no discipline and work only on what they like, doing the rest in a lackadaisical manner. We see on TV police detectives who always solve the case but left a lot of things topsy-turvy causing the boss to go bonkers? They break all sorts of rules and regulations and can get away on TV but never, you bet, in the real world. On the other hand there are the strict disciplinarians who observe all the rules in the book but become a stumbling block to useful investigation and necessary action to be taken immediately. As bosses they often frustrate the action-oriented workers and drive them up the wall. These bosses are often very obstinate and persistent, putting even very effective workers in trouble, until some higher-ups give reprieve them.
What management guru2 have often focused on is work-attitude. Yes there are all sorts of attitude towards work but a good work discipline is considered able to be able to overcome some negative attitude. Not really. A worker who really loves to help his or her clients and consider them as friends will continue to be different from one who treat them as potential victims to be skinned alive, no matter how much training he or she undergoes.Such workers consider a client who asks a lot of questions as trouble makers, not an intelligent member of the public.

So,are the so-called modern training programs geared towards treating each of these aspects of working, separately? Giving more technical and academic training for workers with poor work discipline and work attitude will be a mere waste of resources while workers with the wrong attitude towards customers and clients can never improve even with strict disciplinary control. We see many of these workers in the government sector because turning the potential clients away is no loss to the department and nobody cares.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Growing fruit trees ....

Growing fruit trees in an orchard or a big housing compound is no problem. The only problem is we seldom do it if we are not a farmer by profession. Just how many fruit trees have you planted and tended to fruition in your life?

I grew up in the village and therefore love to plant fruit trees. But my home on the outskirt of KL consists of a SemiD house and a small plot of land in front and by the side of the house, separating it from the neighbor's. Not satisfied with the small space at my disposal to plant the flowers and the trees that I like - my wife soon commandeered the former concern - I did buy an acre of agricultural land outide the city to become my sweatshop. Yes I filled it with all sorts of fruit trees including cikus, mangosteen, mangoes ( which never fruit because the land is said to be unsuitable),langsat and dukong, while some durian, rambutan, and cempedak tress have already been grown on the land when i bought it. I've already been enjoying the fruit of my labor.
But the fruit trees I grew in my little compound in front of and by the side of my semiD dwelling, raised some different issues. First my wife claimed that the roots of the mango and rambutan trees planted some 10-20 feet away from the building is causing cracks in the concrete foundation, drains and skirting.As a result two mango tress, already bearing sweet and juicy fruit had to be demolished.Only one rambutan tree, constantly bearing fruits that can easily outclass any in the market in terms of taste and fleshiness, remained, amidst the flower trees she had grown. The dead leaves from the tree were constantly bothering her while any crack in the concrete drains was attributed to the tree roots.

A new problem arose when our neighbor chose to extend his home up to the fencing. The leaves and branches of my rambutan tree grew above his roof and almost touched the window of the upper floor. The dead leaves and twigs began to mar the roof. Lately, some monkeys also began to visit my rambutan tree to feed on the sweet and succulent fruits. More complaints about rubbish and disturbances. The neighbor insisted on cutting away the trees entirely but I only agreed on trimming it, leaving no branches or leaves overhanging his roof. The result is as seen in the pic. How easy it is to do away with a tree when it took me years to let it grow. Two other mango trees in the compound of another house in my hometown, had also been demolished by my wife after some heated argument.

Why do people hate to have fruit trees in the compound of their home? They prefer to plant all sorts of flower trees, some getting as wild as those in a secondary jungle. But they love them. But not fruit trees. They prefer to buy the fruits at an exorbitant price in the market rather than grew the fruits themselves.I believe most city homes, even single-

story terrace house with a little compound, can accommodate a fruit tree or two, if kept properly pruned and trimmed.