Dr. Chandra Muzaffar will attest that there are two people who have been consistent about Anwar Ibrahim since his days in UMNO; a chap in USM Penang and myself. I have since the first time I heard him speak found him to be a person who delivers grandiose entertaining lectures with little meaning. I found his speeches lack depth. (Unfortunately, we can find many of these folks in the training and development business too).
I am not saying that Anwar has no outstanding talent. On the contrary he has some really outstanding competencies which I will elaborate in part 2 of this article. However, his strength does not match the capacity and skills needed for general management. This is especially for the number one position of a CEO or PM. As early as 1990, I predicted that he was unlikely to become Malaysia’s Prime Minister – and if he did, he will not last for long. Events over the last two decades have proven me correct.
If you are an Anwar fan, or from Pakatan, or a supporter of the political coalition, before you go into conniption, spewing angry words, accusations, and going mad with this article, kindly note that I would have written this article even if Anwar Ibrahim is still in UMNO. I suggest you lend me your ear, and listen to my rationale. Thank you.
For a start, let me explain with three simple examples.
1) When he was the Minister of Education he introduced Bahasa Baku – a more difficult way to pronounce words where we were told to pronounce BM words as they are spelt. For example ‘teknologi’ is pronounced as technolo-‘ghee’ and ‘universiti’ is pronounced as ‘oo’-niversity – articulating the ‘u’ as per the pronunciation of the first syllable for oolong (tea). Historically, language especially the spoken variety does not evolve that way. You cannot force it on the population. In fact spoken words evolved from the more difficult to pronounce to one that is easier to vocalize. For example, in the English language we have the silent ‘k’ in knife, know, knight etc.
These are remnants of Old English, and wasn't silent at all but was pronounced along with the 'n'. This change is believed to have transpired sometime around the 16th to 17th centuries. Basically, "kn" was considered to be difficult to pronounce and it is much easier and comfortable to follow the "new" pronunciation "n”. (Others: gn, hn, hl, hr, hw -to know more please Google phonotactics constraints). In modern day Indonesia when one says, “Ori”, it is understood it means ‘Original” as the language has evolved to make words simpler.
While we do not expect Anwar to know this as he is not a graduate of linguistic studies but top management must be equipped with the ability to ask the right questions to get to the right answers in order not to end up with such blunders.
2) During his budget speech as the Finance Minister, analysts were made to pay attention to language rather than economics, the Dewan Bahasa Dictionary rather than to the calculator. That was Anwar’s biggest contribution to the budget speech. Big Bahasa Malaysia words. Unfortunately, bombastic words cannot make an economy fly let alone help us out of the 1997 Financial Crisis.
As a young man I was rather worried when most Malaysians were debating the meaning of BM words rather than the budget allocation and plan. I felt that perhaps as Anwar is not that confident with economics, he focuses on showing off language instead. It ended with Anwar not truly explaining the budget and the nation not really understanding his speech. Sigh!
3) A more recent example is the push to abolish the PTPTN. Accordingly, the loan scheme was approved during Anwar’s time. Some say it was him who approved it too. Events today made it obvious that Anwar did not really understand the economics of the loan then when he sanctioned it. I am convinced that he has no idea on the repercussions of abolishing it in favor of free education for all. Loan schemes like PTPTN are not just good noble platform to help people; but rather it is also good economics and therefore good for business. Let me explain.
The purpose of business is to create customers.
Only when a business creates customers, do they add value to society. When a business creates a customer, it sets a chain reaction of interconnected, interrelated, and correlated businesses from raw materials to end products coupled with service needs like distribution and communications that is required for delivery and information. IN SHORT, BY CREATING CUSTOMERS, BUSINESSES CREATE JOBS. As such each time a business sells to one customer they touch the lives of thousands if not millions of people.
Any smart and pro-business government policy must help the creation of customers. Basically there are four main ways for businesses to create customers. Innovation, Advertising and Promotions, Selling and Credit.
For example, the INNOVATION of the hand phones has created jobs we never knew could exist. ADVERTISING and PROMOTION draws us to product and service offerings that we are not aware of – like waking up on a Saturday and discovering there is a furniture sale at Fella Design and making a trip to the store and get that nice easy chair you have always wanted. As for SELLING, sales people help us understand product features and benefits better thus helping us decide what, when, where, and whom to buy from.
Last but perhaps one of the most powerful components of customer creation is CREDIT. Credit can create customers almost out of NOTHING AT ALL simply because we humans have learned to trust each other with ‘a promise to pay back at a later date’ system. Can you imagine if we do not have credit facility to purchase houses, cars, and start a business? There would be a total collapse of the world economy and the loss of millions of jobs.
PTPTN is a credit facility. PTPTN has created customers not only by way of students but all other interconnected, interrelated, and correlated businesses from construction, teaching and administration, transportation, food and beverage, retail, entertainment, etc in an endless chain reaction that made not only the world a better place by giving needy people an education but by making our economy more viable, jobs aplenty, and profit for taxes.
It was PTPTN that helped spur and catalyst our education industry like the mushrooming of colleges and universities in the Sunway area. Not only we attracted students from Malaysia but also from all over the world who did not benefit from PTPTN but contributed to society and our well-being.
Let me put it simply. If we take away PTPTN, not only the lecturers, administrators and rich owners of the colleges and universities will lose their jobs and money but that poor Makcik selling nasi lemak in front of the institute of learning will need to close shop because there would be not enough customers buying her products.
End of part 1
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do Sir? “
– John Maynard Keynes