Friday, September 21, 2012

#AskAnas On the Spot live tweet session

taken from STAR Ipad facebook website

Unity in diversity ; #AskAnas adds value to discourse in Twitterjaya by MICHELLE TAM 

PRINCIPLE consultant and founder of zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd, Anas Zubedy, joined us for an On The Spot session on September 15 - just one day after his company’s Malaysia Day event - and the session stretched into the day when the nation celebrates the establishment of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

As befitting his diverse background, the marketing consultant, trainer, and author received various questions on wide-ranging themes such as unity and change, to business and politics. 

One day before the session saw Anas tweeting “Yo Every1! Tomorrow is #AskAnas - send your questions. 30 questions will be chosen for me to answer. Have fun with your questions :)”. He would later both begin and end his session with a greeting of peace.

Software developer Patrick Lum (@patricklsk), 34, stepped up to the plate as moderator and selected the top questions for Anas to answer.

Here are the highlights from the live question and answer session. Tweets are slightly edited for clarity, brevity and continuity.

As an advocate for unity in diversity, Anas received many questions relevant to his cause and with regards to Malaysian society.

‏@smellykatemoss: #AskAnas how is your concept of “bangsa malaysia” different from “malaysian malaysia”?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas It is hard to comment about Malaysian Malaysia as we do not have a document outlining what it really is. I have written various times to DAP but have yet to receive any answers. While DAP’s 1st objective points to MM, no details are given. The buku Jingga does not have a mention of the concept either. I can only base what I know from what others commented about it. If MM is to equalise the Malay culture & indigenous cultures of Sabah & Sarawak with the other cultures, it is against history & the constitution. My idea of Bangsa M’sia dances with the constitution, history & Rukun Negara. That is, the Malay & indigenous customs form the core culture of our unique M’sian brand & chinese, indian & other cultures are part & parcel & add value. It will be good if DAP or PR can together produce a Malaysian Malaysia document perhaps as a comparison with BN’s 1Malaysia so we the rakyat can compare and make our choice :)

@_charis: #AskAnas Is talking about unity / positivity enough to get a united/positve m’sia? What must happen for us to BE united in reality?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Definitely not! We need to 1) Want, 2) Believe, 3) Understand, 4) Practice & 5) Celebrate. We will not be United in every way, but we must have some form of minimum standard requirement - values that we all practice. The number 1 - 5 suggested earlier regardless of our race, location, background & religion.

@aizatroslan: #AskAnas Question: where did you get the inspiration for your unity cause? when did it start?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Naturally. It is like a call from within. Perhaps because I grew up in Penang as a minority. It started early - primary school. My reading of the Quran, having understood the universal essence of the Book, enhanced & shaped the practice of Unity giving it much depth and vocation. Furthermore, Msia can’t but build a universal child if only one allows his/her heart to flow with the goodness of the rakyat. How not to see the beauty of Unity in diversity while growing up in Penang? Malaysia? One need to be blind at heart to have missed it ... for we are Many Colours, One Race. By law, I am a Malay, but ancestry I am Malay-Arab mixed, by choice I am Malaysian, but in the heart I belong to the human race. TQ, Peace :)

As a social entrepreneur, Anas also entertained questions on business and economics.

@aafaizli: #AskAnas What is your take on the fuel subsidy (approx RM15B this year) and the car excise duty collection (approx RM7B this year)?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I do not not agree with blanket subsidy, subsidy for fuel included. Pls read here  I am ok with the current car excise duty. I pay a big tax for my luxury car. But, tax the rich, help the poor. But that does not mean I agree with allowing our local made cars to be of poor quality. It is a separate issue altho connected.  Quality depends more than just protection. It is a culture. Many other industries are protected - why only focus on cars? The belief that free market is the way to build an industry is a big lie. Anyone who reads economic history will tell you otherwise. I have written a short article about it here

@nughol: What is your take on minimum wage policy? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas It is very hard to implement without taking consideration of locality, nationality & industry. We may want to ask ... how much we should pay the foreign labourers, our own people, etc. We must ensure that we pay our workers a decent salary without killing the business. I find it hard to decide a quantum nationwide. Some businesses can afford more, some can’t. It must also tie up with productivity & minimum standard requirement.  For example, do everyone spent bulat-bulat (exactly) 8 hours doing their job or do they mengulat (Missing In Action)? So what I do is, I stop asking others to pay a min wage, but practice it at zubedy my own company. The Indonesian worker that work here is paid a local salary, we provide tuition $ for her children & arrange her housing - because she is very hard working. Business leaders perhaps want to do the same. No one policy for all is my recommendation :)

@_charis: #AskAnas How can businesses practice social duty while still keeping business goals (i.e. making best profit possible)?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas A business’s number one social duty is to make a profit within ethical means. That is a business’s most important CSR. Only when an organisation makes profit, they survive - provide jobs, product & services that make the world a better place. The number one purpose of a business org is to create customers. If they do that well, they are practicing CSR. All other CSR measures must also create customers, build the company brand & help the company makes profit. Any other reasons is going against the purpose of business, and as such is doing a disservice to mankind.

Time waits for no man: others were eager for Anas to spill the beans on what he thinks the future holds.

@CikSyuza: #AskAnas Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas At 50 ( thats 1 and 1/2 years from now) I will decide my next career options. Currently I am thinking of various options. 1) Make millions of ringgit - i.e. be focused on making $ & set new $ making business, no. 2) jump into politics & sell the politics of middle path & unity in diversity as I have been advocating, 3) focus on writing especially on religion & management. I hope by then I should be married too, people are beginning to wonder if i am straight even when I do not wear V -Necks LOL!!! So, in 5 - 10 years time … it will depend on the above :)

‏@_charis: #AskAnas Where do you see our nation, as a people, today and in the next 10, 15 years?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas in the next 10-15 years I would assume Msians will no longer be excited to support #BodohPolitik (#StupidPolitics). We would have grown up although new recruits & leaders to #BodohPolitik will continue to irritate our landscape. But, I have hope that we will be better & achieve Vision 2020. Our economy will be better, our nation smarter, our sport people will win more international competition & Tun Mahathir will still say his piece :)

As with any discussion in Malaysia, politics also entered the conversation.

@Mirafirda: #AskAnas will we have more bipartisan Malaysian or will Malaysia become a polarised society?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I am assuming you are asking if we are going to be more polarised. Sadly, in the near future the answer is a Yes. This is because our politics has become more partisan. Many are supporting ideas/policies not based on what is right but who says it. But, I am positive that within the next few GEs, M’sians will realise this mistake & grow more mature & see that right is right, wrong is wrong, no matter who does it.

‏@kian_ong: #AskAnas How do we make people realise that we CAN disagree politically AND still work together, be friends?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Ong, this is difficult to do. Precursor to that is maturity. So we will need to wait. We need to start them young. To LA2D. LA2D is the acronym for Let’s Agree To Disagree. We produced a teen talk show with the same title a few years ago, now still being aired by RTM 2. Unfortunately, I cannot understand the logic of RTM2 airing the show at 6am in the morning LOL! When teens are still much asleep! We need to go back to the family institution, school & activities to inculcate LA2D mentality.

‏@we2020: #AskAnas CROSSROAD - if unsure who to vote, is it ok to not vote?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Not going out to vote is also a democratic right. But it would be rather a waste. So pls choose the lesser evil if we must. But if your conscience tells you not to vote any, follow it :)

‏@Phatkor: #AskAnas So you think there is sincerity in both the ruling & opposition parties in wanting to represent the people’s interest?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Yes. Both BN & PR have good people with sincerity or else our nation will not be where we are today. Remember that we are doing well but we want to be better. While there are shortcomings, we have done well. The trick is to see the facts, be balanced. Take the NEP: you can read my article here & see we have moved millions out of poverty. That can only take place with sincerity Read about our Mr Opposition, the late Tan Sri David Tan & you will clearly see sincerity: go here Although there are some of our politicians who we can consider not up to mark, many are ok. The trick is to ensure we do not vote those who practice #BodohPolitik (#StupidPolitics) in the next GE. Vote only sincere ones in, kick the nonsensical ones out; regardless of political party :)

Many tweeters sought his thoughts on all things to do with learning and education.

‏@aafaizli: #AskAnas Will 1School for all races that offer all required subject (language, religion) for all can be realistically implemented in Malaysia?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas POSSIBLE, but without forcing the closure of the current vernacular/agama (religion) schools & at the same time making sure better quality 1School. Parents look for quality education that ensures their kids have a good future - both here & the hereafter :) If Tamil schools can offer that better than the Chinese ones, Chinese parents will flock their children there. The way to get there is serious focus in making 1SCHOOL the school of choice: Best People, Process & Structure for schools. Pay the best people to teach in 1SCHOOL, be fair to all students, active parent engagement, holistic approach etc.  I dream to see this happen in my lifetime :)

@nughol: What is the most important thing that can be improved on our current education system? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas If we need & can only choose one and only one way to improve our education system, I suggest we focus on getting the best TEACHERS! A really good teacher with heart, mind & soul in his/her job will make do with whatever situation & give the best. Students cannot but love learning, studying & being their best when they have the best of teachers. We should focus here :)

@aafaizli: #AskAnas What is the best to promote and ingrain reading and writing culture among Malaysians? Do you agree we need more concerned citizens?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I have written an article entitled ‘Instead of the keris, use a book’ it is worth reading here Yes, we should be VERY concerned about reading & writing. Here are some ideas (besides the ones in the article earlier). Reading should be part of all our KPI at work. All management staff must at least read Peter Drucker’s idea, here are some samples. Sample 1, what makes an effective executive - Sample 2 ‘managing oneself’: We must make a national culture and set 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm daily except Saturdays as reading and studying time :) Muslim leaders must add READING as one of the pillars of Islam as it is ironic that the 1st word delivered to the Prophet is to ‘Read’. Find ways to make books cheaper by relooking into the publishing business in total. Build comfy, cool & safe reading corners all over the country. Corp org must also play an active role. So many more ... but will stop here :)

@cheongchew: #AskAnas Polarized society, whose fault? Is it racial based political parties or vernacular school?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas We are polarised for many reasons, not just those two. However, I do see the current race/religious based parties while is pragmatic at this time, but a major contributor to d problem. Because politics do define society. How we organise our politics will have direct impact on the rakyat. Best we nudge slowly away from such politics. But the rakyat must WANT it. As for vernacular/agama (religion) schools etc - segregating our kids at such an early age does not help either. Many still socialise in silo. But we must not make a mistake by saying such schools promote polarization e.g. many do not know that a big portion of teachers in Chinese vernacular schools are non-Chinese. The problem is socialization. We need to get our kids to mix, play, quarrel etc and learn to deal with each other as early as possible :)

In one answer, Anas also revealed himself to be a devoted Trekkie or Star Trek fan!

‏@aafaizli: #AskAnas do you agree to promote Unity we should have more common restaurants versus current Chinese, Malay, Mamak and Indian ones?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Anas, i like your name LOL! No bro. We want Unity in diversity, not to wipe out ethnicity. In fact that is our unique brand. It is important that while we move towards Bangsa Malaysia we must remember that all the various races are part of the larger brand. We must not even lose a culture from a small tribe in Sabah or Sarawak in our quest for 1Malaysia. I recommend all to watch Star Trek. Captain Picard will mati-mati (to the death) defend the rights of a culture even if he has to lose his position - check out

Anas also revealed a little-known facet of himself in the following exchange.

@dean_armora: I’d also like to #AskAnas his take on the claim that Malaysia is safe. Is the fear that it isn’t valid or just a perception?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas Yes, Malaysia is safe. We are blessed with a home that does not face major calamities like earthquakes, living volcanoes, etc. The only way we can screw things up, is when we do it ourselves. As for crime, I trust Idris Jala to tell the truth plus minus 5 % margin of error with his stats. But social media helps highlight cases. So our awareness of crime is much higher. We need to deal with our own anxiety. As I am a ‘victim’ of anxiety disorder who has managed to deal with the problem of panic attack the last 9 years, I feel the country as a whole has to learn to deal with a national level anxiety disorder. Simply put it, our mind magnify the problem more than it is. Our mind is our own enemy. That does not mean crime is not real. But, the mind exaggerates - you need to be aware of it. Here is a wiki link Perhaps we may need a ‘ISN - Institut Shrink Negara’ LOL ! But seriously fear can breed fear itself. Be aware :)

The session was not short on fun questions as well.

@Aisehman: #AskAnasThat stick figure in your ads. Who drew it?

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I drew it back in 1994. That is the best I can do LOL! I am a writer but not an artist. But the zubedy stickman has a story to it :) 1) It was based on my stickman drawing about Somalia - people dying in drought & poverty. Many liked the drawings. so when I set up a company, I just incorporate the style into a logo :)

@cheongchew: #AskAnas Among present living local politicians, who can you trust with your life?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas CCC, do not trust anyone with your life be they politicians or otherwise. Only trust yourself, those who love you unconditionally, a very good doctor or lawyer when your life depends on them and GOD :)

‏@nughol: What is a life of contentment to you? #AskAnas

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas I am one of those who is likely not to retire till the day I die. There will be always something to do. Contentment is a work in progress, one contentment will breed another. It is the feeling of contentment that makes you move forward. When we do a good job and work hard, we can relax with contentment. That is the ability to do nothing & not feel guilty. That is a gift that I profusely thank to God :)

The subject of change was on quite a few minds.

‏@janet7gc: #AskAnas How extensive an organisation transformation got to be to form a group of change agent?

@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas any transformation program must be holistic that covers People, Structure -administration, Empowerment-decision making & Unity systems. It is not enough to have a group of change agents. That is a misunderstanding. All key personnel must be in it eventually. As time, plan to slowly but surely convert the entire group of stakeholders must be organised & followed through. A popular approach is to use the law of Diffusion of Innovation as a rough guide go here A good place to hear an explanation can be found in this video A change initiative has lots of things to do but must cover the following five. 1) change is knowledge/skills, 2) change in attitude 3) change in behaviour, 4) change in group behavior and 5) the awareness to all the above. A good book to read is by Daryl R Conner go here

@ellifamira: What do you think is the wisest way to gain faith from nowadays generation in our nation again? They don’t seem to care. #AskAnas

‏@AnasZubedy: #AskAnas The younger generation is different in a way that many are not confined to a nation state. They are larger in their perspective. For most of them, the global world is their playground - may not be physically, but via modern communications - like the internet. They have the choice of throwing their interest in more places. That is ok. We are, at the end of the day, children of the earth.  However, if we want to get their interest, we must listen to them & try to bridge the old & d new. To make them care, we must care more.

“Thank you for the experience. I like the idea that The Star is up to date with new media – blending the old and the new media in a cool fashion. Hope more of such efforts will be forthcoming,” said Anas after the four-hour tweet session. 

As he had a very busy week, he found the most challenging part of #AskAnas being the lack of time to prepare, and noted that it would be good if he had time before it began to ponder upon the questions! 
Thankfully, he still enjoyed himself, as he “got to respond to important issues affecting the nation via new media and eat satay in between questions”.

Anas finds the On The Spot sessions “a great initiative that adds depth in Twitterjaya (TJ). It will be good to have more of such initiatives”. 

The 48-year-old also suggested increasing the connection between The Star and Twitterjaya by encouraging readers - who are not yet part of the local Twitter scene - to set up an account and participate, and conducting more prominent communication within and outside Twitterjaya about the sessions, as it would benefit both the nation and the paper.

With regards to the queries received, Anas said he would be happier if there were more questions about business, religion, change, management, marketing, and Gen Y issues, among others, as “most of the topics need more discussion – a real forum perhaps”.

As most Malaysians know of Anas and his company through their muhibbah advertisements, I asked him to share on the subject. 

“Our most recent advert, on September 14 – our Hari Malaysia advert - chats about leadership. At zubedy, we try hard to make our advertising message current yet universal. So the topics we choose deal with current affairs but offer solutions that are based on timeless core values,” he said. 

“We try to be the bridge builder between opposing segments to find shared values that we all can agree with. Our #SaySomethingNice campaign seeks to bring extreme politics to a more balanced approach. To cut down the exaggerations and the noise and see things as they are.”

What goes into the creation of each advert?

“We have a team of people working on the adverts. We identify the message, brainstorm, research, and write the final copy. One of the key elements is to choose the right ‘hero’ from history that can represent our message – someone who lived a life that embodies the message,” said Anas. 

“The next advert will be for Deepavali. We will be continuing with the ‘Choose the Middle Path’ theme, where we will chat about how to take Middle Path action,” he added. 

As for the year ahead, many developments are afoot for Anas and team, with interesting projects for 2013 already being outlined: among them are books, campaigns, and GOYFU (Gathering of Youth for Unity), to name a few.

“Next year, we are planning to prepare a bigger action plan for the #SaySomethingNice campaign. We hope to target and reach 50 bloggers, two news daily each from old and new media, hundreds of other opinion makers, and one million Malaysians,” said the passionate social entrepreneur.

The Hari Malaysia celebration hosted by zubedy on September 14 also acted as the culmination of their #SaySomethingNice campaign, which was launched on August 31, 2012. The 12-year-old event, which first began in 2001, featured a traditional kukur kelapa (coconut scraping) demonstration and special performances. Also present was delicious rojak and cendol, in accordance to the event’s theme, which served as a reminder of how even life’s simplest things - like the food we love - can and has always brought us together in unity. 

As for future On The Spot sessions, Anas would like Dr G. Bala of the Planet of The Monyet blog to take part and say his piece.

Anas also echoed his answer to a question by @suffianrk - who enquired about the first thing he’d do if he was Prime Minister of Malaysia - as his parting words.

His answer was: “Fervently and constantly ask God for guidance to be able to lead with love, logic and wisdom.”

As to why: “May all of us guide ourselves with love, logic and wisdom. Love, because love makes us fair with our hearts; Logic, because logic makes us fair with our minds; and Wisdom, because wisdom leads us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of Mankind.”

The next On The Spot session is #AskCIJ with Masjaliza Hamzah, executive officer of the Centre for Independent Journalism, at 11am on September 21.

Other upcoming personalities include RandomAlphabets’ Zain HD, the Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah, and journalist and social media enthusiast Niki Cheong.

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