Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Have A Meaningful Chinese New Year - Thursday in The STAR

"Moderates in this nation have to continue to speak up more strongly to retain a moderate and constitutional nation," Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng (1927 - 2015)

Let us be Moderate:
 Let’s practise diversity and inclusion

In our Christmas message, we elaborated the seventh point of the Ten Principles for a Moderate Malaysian. For Chinese New Year, we would like to share the eighth principle. Do look forward to the upcoming two.
Principle Number Eight.

I will embrace and practise diversity and inclusion. I will believe with all my heart that diversity is one of God’s greatest signs and gifts.

1.   What is diversity and inclusion (D&I)?
When we practise diversity, we consciously decide to respect and appreciate the differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education and religion. When we practise inclusion, we consciously focus on the needs of every individual and ensure that the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential.

    2.  Why is diversity and inclusion important?
   When we practise diversity and inclusion, we ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully. We allow for positive differences to exist and be appreciated. Rather than being intimidated or prejudices by those differences, we encourage people to accept the fact that there are diverse interests, diverse values, and diverse physical and emotional characteristics present in the world. This will create an environment that brings out innovation, creativity and productivity.

3.   How can moderate Malaysians add value through D&I?
    Moderate Malaysians practise diversity and foster inclusion. They understand that D&I is the key to building an innovative and productive nation. They respect, welcome and treat others as how they expect to be treated. With D&I as part and parcel of their way of life, moderate Malaysians apply it as a tool to bring forth the best in the nation; both socially and economically.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dear Malaysian Leaders (business, government, social, education and politics), - Monday in The STAR

“What gets measured gets improved”
-       Peter Drucker

Re: Let’s agree on what is and what is not performance.

Let us be candid. 2016 will be a really challenging year. We have to step up our act. There are many things to do. First, we need to identify the one action that when done right, will give a major impact.

I suggest we focus on PERFORMANCE.

1.     Many Malaysians have a twisted idea about performance. The majority who perform at a mediocre level perceive themselves as excellent performers. They rate themselves as Excellent Performers (A/5) when they clock in at 9 and go back at 5. This is performing as expected. In reality however, most would at best be performing at a C minus level.

2.     We are a nation who lies to each other. Superiors evade managing tensions and stay away from unpleasant conversations. They avoid taking tough actions to manage performance and subordinates’ weaknesses are not communicated and corrected. Many sugar coat poor performances simply because they want to be seen as nice bosses.

3.      We give bonuses to almost everyone each year, making everybody believe that they walked the extra mile for performance. To be nice, we distort reality. We created a workforce that simply does not know how to self-analyze. A workforce where the idea of self and reality is as far apart as Kangar is to Kota Kinabalu. This distortion is even more serious within the younger workforce, namely the Generation Y.

As leaders, our duty is to fix this. We must establish yardsticks and communicate them to our people. Clarity of goals and its measurements are crucial factors that determine the performance of the organization and every worker in it.

We at Zubedy have drawn a simple and easy to understand description of what is and what is not performance. We would like to share it with you as we have done to many of our clients.

What is considered as Excellent Performance (Rating A/5)
  • You perform work extraordinarily well and you stand above the rest of your peers.
  • The next person is too far away from you. 
  • You are like the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, P Ramlee, Nicol David, Lionel Messi, Michael Schumacher or Michael Jackson of your work.
  • You finish the job well before the deadline.
  • A good example is like in a marathon, you are the first few who broke away and leave behind the thousands to finish first.
What is considered as Above Average Performance (Rating B/4)
  • You perform more than 100%, but not that extraordinary yet.
  • You can teach or coach people, you know how to do it.
  • Your quality and performance is higher than the rest of your peers.
  • Your superior relies on you and does not see a need to monitor you.
  • You finish the job given before the deadline.
What is considered as Performing as Expected (Rating C/3)?
  • You perform at 100%.
  • You fulfil the need of the job on your own without the need for supervision.
  • Your superior does not need to chase after you or monitor you.
  • You finish the job on time at the quality required.
  • The moment he has to chase you or show you how to do it, you are no longer a C performer.  You are at best a C minus.
What is considered as Performing Below Average (Rating D/2)
  • You perform at or below 99%.
  • You need to be supervised and trained for the job that is expected of you.
  • You need to upgrade your knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • You often fall short of the desired result.
  • Your superior has to chase you and monitor you.
  • You do not finish the job on time.
What is considered as Poor Performance (Rating E/1)?
  • You have not performed 50% of your job.
  • You do not have the basic knowledge, skills and abilities to do your job.
  • You are perhaps new to the job, learning and unable to deliver what is required.
  • You do not finish the job.
  • You require training, re-training and specific supervision.
  • You are likely to have an attitude issue if your performance is consistently at this level.
We have been selling the idea of correcting performance to our customers via our Making A Difference (MAD)*, Managing Across Generation (MAG)* and Managing For Performance (MFP)* programs. But, this is a national concern. To move Malaysia forward, we need to re-calibrate performance in all spheres, all organizations, be it in the business, government, social, education and political.

Let’s make Malaysia great. Let’s start the conversation about performance, making it a daily topic. Until we re-calibrate on what is and what is not performance, we will not be able to do things right.

Call us. Let’s talk. Let’s set our performance standard right.

Thank you.

let us add value

Anas Zubedy
Managing Director
Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd

*MAD is about getting people to want to change.
*MAG is about getting people to understand how each generation perform.
*MFP is about how to lead and manage performance.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Once again, a member of one ethnic community has used an ethnic slur against a member of another ethnic community. What is perhaps different this time is the widespread condemnation of the man who uttered the slur from within his own community and the praises showered upon his target especially in the new media. This could be because his target, a medical doctor, was actually trying to help the man injured in a road accident when he resorted to that derogatory epithet. In spite of his insult to her ethnicity, she remained by his side until medical assistance arrived. It is her deep sense of duty and her magnanimity that impressed a lot of people.

But Malaysians have to go beyond condemnation and praise. It is so important to understand why ethnic slurs, negative ethnic stereotypes and ethnic misconceptions are so pervasive in our society. It is true of course that there is perhaps no community on earth where negative perceptions of ‘the other’ do not exist. In some places they have hardened into deep-seated prejudices transmitted from generation to generation.

Ethnic slurs evolve from different historical and sociological circumstances. The term directed against the good doctor was not always derogatory. Centuries ago, it was used as a descriptive term to denote people who had come to Southeast Asia from a certain region in India, or sometimes, from South India as a whole. This explains why the term is employed widely as a place-name in various parts of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.

Its connotation changed when under British colonial rule a huge influx of Indians from South India began working as rubber-tappers in plantations and as laborers building roads, railways and colonial offices. It was their low socio-economic status, characterized by exploitation and marginalization, which shaped public perceptions of the community. A neutral term used in the past to describe the Indian community became pejorative from the 19th century onwards. Socio-economic and socio-political factors sometimes impact upon the meanings attached to words.

Likewise, one’s limited experience with individuals or families from another community may be responsible for the growth of negative stereotypes. Based upon such experience, one concludes erroneously that community X is greedy or community Y is niggardly or community Z is lazy. One may not realize that there may be a lot of people within the stereotyped community who are just the opposite of what the community is supposed to be. This is why simplistic generalization of the character of a community or a people is not only wrong but also unfair and unjust. Negative ethnic generalization is the bane of inter-ethnic harmony in a multi-ethnic society.

Negative stereotypes are closely linked to yet another formidable barrier to inter-ethnic harmony. When ethnic misconceptions abound, building bridges among communities becomes a major challenge. A common misconception is that since the Constitution provides for the ‘Special Position of the Malays’ all political power is concentrated in the hands of the Malays. A cursory review of the composition of Parliament, the State Assemblies, Federal and State Cabinets and of all those forces that influence the actual exercise of political power in a society like ours from big business to the media, will reveal that the truth is something else. Similarly, just because the vast majority of the billionaires in Malaysia are Chinese, it is wrong to assume that the community monopolizes the nation’s wealth. An analysis of the ownership of big banks, of public and private sector corporations and of land and other natural resources will show that the wealth profile of the nation is more complex than that. Though political and economic realities tell a different story, gross misconceptions about Malay power and Chinese wealth have had a tremendous impact upon the nation’s political discourse. Consequently, they have contributed to the deterioration of ethnic relations.

How do we stem this deterioration? How do we ensure that ethnic misconceptions, ethnic stereotypes and ethnic slurs do not continue to hamper and hinder the quest for national unity? Apart from elites demonstrating through deeds that the dignity of everyone who resides in this land is priority and that justice for the weak and vulnerable takes precedence over their own power and wealth, all sectors of society should focus upon two goals. One, there should be a systematic, organized effort to raise awareness about the pitfalls of ethnic misconceptions, stereotypes and slurs. Research findings from some of our universities on these issues should be widely disseminated through the media. Our principal target should be the Malaysian family since a lot of ethnic misperceptions are spawned within the family setting. If within five years of vigorous education of the family, a significant portion of Malaysians develops a more rational, balanced, empirically based understanding of ethnic realities, we would have moved a few steps forward in our journey towards unity. Two, this journey would become more meaningful if there is also a parallel attempt to create opportunities for greater interaction among the various communities. It is when people continue to live in their own ethnic silos that misconceptions about the other gain more adherents. Exposure to one another in a positive environment is one of the most effective ways of combating ethnic stereotypes.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan 1Malaysia.

Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Devotion to religion does not require hating others who love God differently.
IT is a sad reality that around the world many people of faith nurture the mistaken belief that true devotion to their religion necessitates hatred for followers of other faiths.
The extremists in all traditions believe that their religion is the only true way. They have a monopoly over God and salvation and everyone else is condemned to eternal damnation.
This should not be so. There are many paths to the Truth. Worshipping God in a certain way does not require hating others who love God differently or fail to see God at all.
The character of faith is not a sense of superiority over others because of what you have and they have not. The character of faith is not violence towards and vitriol for “the other”.
The character of faith is to recognise that love of God and fidelity to religion are manifested in kindness towards all humanity. A truly religious person must reject hatred, ill-will and prejudice.
At least this is the message of Islam that I was brought up in.
Religious tolerance: In innumerable passages, the Holy Quran recognises religious pluralism. In 2:256, it states: “There is no compulsion in religion.”
In 109:6, there is the exquisite passage: “Unto you your religion, unto me mine.” In Surah 11:118, it is declared: “If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will not cease to dispute.”
In Surah 10:99, there is this admonition: “Had your Lord willed, those on Earth would have believed, all of them together. Will you then compel people against their will to believe?” In 18:29, it is commanded: “Let him who will, believe; and let him who will, disbelieve.”
“Allah alone is the One who will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection” (2:113).
Places of worship: All places of worship are sacred and must be defended. In Surah 22:40, the Quran speaks of monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques “as places in which God is commemorated in abundant measure”.
Respect for other religions: Islamic civilisation is not hostile towards previous religions. The Prophets of all revealed religions are regarded as brothers. Muslims are obliged to believe in them all. Every nation has its messenger (10:47). “Nothing has been said to you save what was said to the messengers before you” (41:43).
In Surah 2:136, it is stated: “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob), and to Al-Asbaat (the offspring of the 12 sons of Yaqoob), and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and Esa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in submission to Him.”
The Hebrew prophets and Christ are deeply respected by Muslims. The tombs of the Hebrew prophets are revered by Muslims. The Virgin Mary is given an exalted spiritual position in the Quran; a whole chapter is named after her.
All Christians and Jews are given the special status of ahle-kitab (believers in a book). In some schools of Islamic thought (but not in Malaysia) inter-marriage with Christian and Jewish girls is permissible without any need for conversion.
Peaceful co-existence: In Islamic history, the clergy in the churches were given full authority over their flocks with regard to all religious and church matters. When the Muslims conquered Egypt, they gave the Coptic churches back to the Copts and restored their rights.
In the early history of Islam, Muslims and Christians often prayed simultaneously in many churches, for example, the Cathedral of Saint John in Damascus. Likewise, Prophet Muhammad allowed the Christians of Najran to pray in Muslim mosques.
When Prophet Muhammad migrated to Madinah, one of the first affairs of state that he dealt with was to establish a treaty with the Jews, according to which their beliefs were to be respected and the state was obliged to ward off harm from them.
Prophet Muhammad’s Message to the Monks of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai is a shining example of religious tolerance.
Duty of civility: The book Civilisation of Faith by Mustafa as-Sibaa’ie states that the Quran obliges the Muslim to believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, to speak of all of them with respect, not to mistreat their followers, to deal with them all in a good and gentle manner, speaking kindly to them, being a good neighbour to them and accepting their hospitality.
“And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best” (29: 46). “And insult not those who invoke other than Allah, lest they should insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge” (6:108).
Cooperation with and courtesy towards other religions is recommended (5:5, 6:108). There is no bar to visiting non-Muslim places of worship. It all depends on the purpose of one’s visit.
If the purpose is aesthetic or to seek knowledge or to negotiate goodwill, there is no religious bar.
Allah is everywhere and Muslim texts exquisitely state that “the whole earth is a mosque”.
Differences of religion should not make people fight one another or commit aggression, rather they should cooperate in doing good and warding off evil (5:2, 5:5).
The Malaysian Constitution honours this spirit. Article 3 states: “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony.”
In this spirit I wish all Christians, here and abroad, a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May this season bring love and laughter, health and happiness and a Christmas of the heart.
May there be peace on earth and goodwill towards all men.
Let us pray for an end to terrorism and the terrorism of the Western-inspired wars in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.
May the spirit of Christmas spread to all other crucibles of conflict in this world.
Shad Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Have A Meaningful Christmas - Wednesday in The STAR

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)

Let us be Moderate:
The Golden Rule

In our Deepavali message, we elaborated the sixth point of the Ten Principles for a Moderate Malaysian. For Christmas, we would like to share the seventh principle. Do look forward to the upcoming three.
Principle Number Seven.

I will practice the Golden Rule. I will treat others as I would like others to treat me. I will not treat others in ways that I would not like to be treated.

1.   Why the Golden Rule?
The Golden Rule is a shared value that all of us can practice; regardless of our race, religion, background or spiritual tradition. The Golden Rule is found in the Mahabharata, in Confucianism, in the Udanavarga, the Bible and the Quran. It is a shared value that unites us. The Golden Rule acts as the rope that binds our hearts firmly together and prevents us from being divided.

2.   How and when to use the Golden Rule?
The Golden Rule is crucial for a nation like ours; a nation with many different race, religion and cultural backgrounds. It is important that we are sensitive to the needs of others and avoid wounding our brother and sister Malaysians. The Golden Rule emphasizes on empathy and compassion. When we understand and apply this rule, we do not call the Chinese and Indians as pendatang and at the same time refute that this nation descended from a Malay polity.

3.   How does moderation and the Golden Rule relate?
At the core of moderation, is the Golden Rule. He who practices the Golden Rule will always be a moderate person. He will choose to treat the other person well, knowing that his behaviour will create a chain reaction of others treating others well too. By practicing the Golden Rule and moderation, we create a catalyst for a better Malaysia.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Current trends in Malaysian society do not generate much optimism about the future. Gleaned from the electoral landscape, there are two trends one should focus upon: one, associated with the ruling Barisan Nasional, specifically UMNO, the coalition’s pillar and the nation’s biggest and most influential political party; the other, linked to the Pakatan, mainly the DAP, the largest political party in the opposition.

We shall evaluate briefly these two actors in relation to five critical aspects of national life --- integrity; economic realities; political structure; religion; and ethnic relations.


While the UMNO led government has initiated some institutional measures to enhance integrity such as anti-corruption courts and integrity pacts, it has given very little attention to the variety of proposals made by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Institute Integrity Malaysia (IIM) in the last few years to combat elite corruption. This is largely because of powerful vested interests which have become deeply entrenched. The government’s approach to the 1MDB controversy testifies to this.

The opposition appears to be more determined to curb graft. The DAP state government in Penang under Lim Guan Eng requires its Executive Councillors and Assembly members to declare their assets (though not their liabilities) to the public. After seven years in power, there is no whiff of any financial scandal. The PKR-led Selangor state government sought to minimize political interference in governmental decisions pertaining to contracts and projects under its former Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim. Kelantan, which has been under PAS stewardship for 25 years now is not tainted with corruption largely because of the moral rectitude of the late Dato Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who was Mentri Besar for 23 years.

Economic Realities

The UMNO-BN leadership recognizes that the bottom 40% of urban Malaysia is struggling to make ends meet. It has offered some remedies in the form of assistance programmes but they are largely palliative and do not address the root causes of relative deprivation. It is not just a question of raising incomes or upgrading skills. The ownership and control of key resources that the bottom 40% depend upon --- land, water, energy --- will have to be re-appraised. Likewise, the distribution of goods and services which impact upon the cost of living will have to be reviewed to ensure greater access and equity for the poorer half of society.

The opposition’s economic policies have also not examined larger structural challenges of this sort in a consistent manner. True, its alternative budget for 2016 promises to implement a capital gains tax and an inheritance tax which would be equitable. But it could have tried to explore how the role of the cooperative movement for instance could be reinforced in both the production and distribution of certain goods and services to strengthen the position of the working-class. The re-organization of agriculture, which the opposition’s budget highlights, could have also been linked to building dynamic rural cooperatives.

Political Structure

For all its warts and pimples, Malaysia is still a functioning democracy. In some respects, democratic space has widened in the last few years with the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA), changes to the University and the University Colleges Act (UCCA) and the introduction of a Peaceful Assembly Act --- all accomplished under Dato Sri Najib’s tutelage. The new media has also been a major contributory factor. Nonetheless, dissent, especially when it raises questions about the exercise of power at the apex, is often severely curbed. A true participatory democracy anchored in local, grassroots communities is nowhere on the horizon.

Through its commitment to local government elections, the DAP continues to uphold an important principle of grassroots democracy. But there is little evidence to show that it is seeking to change the top-down approach to democracy and governance --- which is part of the national ethos --- even in those areas within its jurisdiction in Penang.


Freedom of worship and celebration of religious diversity --- hallmarks of UMNO-BN rule for decades --- are very much part of the social reality. And yet there are worrying signs which have become more pronounced over time. As Islam became more prominent in the public arena from the late seventies onwards expressing itself through form rather than substance, many of its adherents also became more exclusive in their outlook especially in matters relating to interaction with non-Muslims. At the same time, because their understanding of faith has undergone a transformation of sorts propelled by the pressures of urbanization and external

influences, more and more Muslims in the middle and upper echelons of society have become advocates of an “Islamic State” that emphasizes prohibition and punishment. It has willy-nilly created an environment that erroneously views hudud as pivotal to Islam when it is God-Consciousness reflected in justice and compassion which defines the religion. Hudud has not only driven a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims in Peninsular Malaysia but has also generated a great deal of uneasiness among Sarawakians and Sabahans including Muslims.

Hudud has also split the opposition. It has split DAP from PAS and is one of the implicit reasons why a number of PAS leaders and activists have broken away from the party to form the Parti Amanah Negara (PAN). How the different opposition parties will deal with this issue in the coming months will determine to an extent the fate of the opposition. The hudud issue is in a sense interwoven with the bigger and more complex challenge of what the role of Islam is in Malaysian society. Neither the opposition nor the BN has the answer.

Ethnic Relations

UMNO and the BN have all along adopted a two pronged approach to ethnic relations. One, keep the Malays and the other communities in their own silos. Mobilize and organize along ethnic lines. View issues and individuals through ethnic lenses. Two, ensure that at the elite level in particular there is an appreciable degree of inter-ethnic cooperation and amity. So ethnic mobilization and inter-ethnic cooperation go hand and hand.

It is a formula that ensured the BN’s electoral success for quite a long while. It was partly responsible for guaranteeing inter-ethnic peace in the country. However, since the 2008 general election, the formula has ceased to be viable. Given the massive erosion of support from the BN among Chinese and Indian voters, it is not possible any more to bring those communities into an inter-ethnic relationship with the Malays and UMNO. And for a lot of urban Malays who perceive UMNO as a party that has gone astray and is no longer connected to them, the party is not on their radar screen. If a silo based, static approach to the maintenance of inter-ethnic peace does not command any meaning, is UMNO-BN capable of evolving an alternative?

Though opposition parties are formally less ethnic, their electoral appeal is still shaped by ethnic politics. What is worse, they are in no position to offer a formula for inter-ethnic cooperation given the huge ideological chasm that separates PAS from DAP. The DAP on its own will not be able to win substantial Malay support partly because it has little empathy for the history and identity of the land which is central to the Malay vision of the nation. Will the DAP’s partners --- PKR and PAN --- be able to fill that vacuum?

In the ultimate analysis, it is because UMNO-BN, on the one hand, and DAP- Pakatan, on the other, both lack inter-ethnic credentials vital for governing a multi-ethnic society like ours that the future does not inspire hope.

10 November 2015.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Have A Meaningful Deepavali - Friday in The STAR

‘Aachi’ Manorama (1937 – 2015) was a beloved cinematic icon who united people from all walks of life through her various roles.

Let us be Moderate: Be honest on both sides and avoid hypocrisy

In our Hari Malaysia message, we elaborated the fifth point of the Ten Principles for a Moderate Malaysian. For Deepavali, we would like to share the sixth principle. Do look forward to the upcoming four.

Principle Number Six.

I will be honest on both sides. I will not be a hypocrite.

1.       What does honest on both sides mean?
Being honest on both sides is about being just. When we are being honest on both sides, we do not take partisan, coloured and prejudiced positions. We see right as right and wrong as wrong, no matter who says or does it. We seek, tell, and mediate the truth. We do not judge others without checking ourselves first. That is being hypocritical. Being honest on both sides is the direct opposite of being a hypocrite.

2.       Who are hypocrites?
Hypocrites are liars of the worst kind. This is because a hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, morals and principles that he or she does not actually possess or believe in. A hypocrite twist and turn everything to win. They like to judge others with the highest of standards, but when it’s time to judge themselves, they bend according to circumstances to the point that the standards are barely there. This assures that the other side is always wrong, and they, always right. Hypocrites create moments of disunity. They are extremists and a liability to society. Hypocrites cannot stand feedback or even constructive criticisms. In fact, a hypocrite will be angry simply by reading this advertisement.

3.       How to be honest on both sides and avoid being a hypocrite?
Be honest and sincere. Make seeking the truth, being just and the practice of moderation as your core belief system. Always consider both sides of the argument. Better still, be creative and look for alternative options. Be stricter with yourself before you are strict with others. Practice what you preach and make sure your actions are louder than your words. Be moderate as moderation will steer you towards being honest on both sides.