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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The human factor - World Bank agrees with this blog!

On September 24th, this blog published GTP10MPETPNKRANKEANEMSRI.

In that post, I lamented the fact that the "human factor" has always been overlooked every time our government launches an economic initiative. Among others, I said :-

"I note however, that amidst the billions which are to be spent for electronics, transportation, financial centres and whatever, only 23 billions are to be spent for health services. And education will only see a 20 billion spending. Agriculture, the bedrock of our rural socio-economics scene in turn would only see 22 billion of  "investment"...

That screams of major imbalances in our socio-economics engineering (or re-engineering) processes."

Later, I added :-

"The thing is, Malaysia had no, notable or at all, industrial culture. One cannot start a culture by simply cutting a pink ribbon to a large industrial factory or plant. The support industries must be there. The whole infrastructure must be there. The human resources must be there. The experience from being knocked down and learning the hard way must be there. The whole networking must be there."

And finally, I said :-

"Whenever Malaysia unveil an economic plan, scant regard is paid to the human factor. We only focus on the money factor and almost nothing else.

What about the human factor? None is projected for human development and human resource development other than the scant 20 billion provided for the education sector."

I wonder whether anybody in PEMANDU would agree with me.

However, the Malaysian Insider, on 28th September 2010 quoted a report by the World Bank saying among others :-

"Malaysia is lacking in investment in human and physical capital leading to domestic savings greatly exceeding domestic investment."

"The bank noted that Malaysia, like its fellow middle-income neighbours Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines, is trying to move out of the middle-income trap but said it requires investment in infrastructure, equipment, education and skills in levels far exceeding what they are currently experiencing, which is well short of the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Singapore when they were at similar per capita income levels, when they were at the same development stage." (emphasis is mine)

The point which I was trying to make is that we seem to be far pre-occupied with physical and material developments without taking into account our capacity, as a people, to ignite, deal and cope with those developments.

We cannot underestimate the effect of non-organic economic growth on our society. Have we ever researched the rempit culture and various sub-cultures which emanate from it, for example? Has it any correlation with lower-income and lower-education group? Where do these people live? What kind of residence do they live in? What job do they do?

A case directly on point. What happened to the FELDA settlers in Negeri Sembilan who got about a million ringgit each after selling their land to a corporation for mass development some years ago?

Have they managed to double up their money by now? Or have they lost their money? How many have invested their money? What kind of investments, if any? How many have ventured into businesses?

I have heard stories of them marrying another wife. Some bought Harley Davidson. There are some who are involved in family disputes over the money. And some have lost everything after being cheated.

This is precisely the point. Those people were not used to having wealth. That however does not mean they are not supposed to have wealth. But the growth of their wealth has to be organic. Otherwise they would just go to waste.

By suddenly getting rich, they were hard pressed on how to behave; how to use their new found wealth properly and how to manage their wealth. In the end, their wealth became a burden on them. It became a source of family disputes. It became a home breaker as they seek humanly pleasures which were hitherto unavailable to them. At the end, some of them lost the money and their family too. What a debacle!

That is one of the human factor which we fail to even think about.

In Putrajaya, the Court building (Palace of Justice) is one of the nicest building anywhere in Malaysia. It must have cost hundreds of millions.

Here we are, in a multi hundred million building, where the highest Court of the land reside; where commercial disputes worth billions of dollars are adjudicated by learned Judges; where matters pertaining life and death are heard and determined; where civil liberties and freedom are discussed, argued about and determined. But just go to the canteen.

Behind the long table, the boys and girls serving us do not even look at us when we order our cup of teh tarik and nasi lemak. While taking our orders, they will be talking to each other. They don't even care to wear suitable clothing and on some days, they even appear dirty and unkempt. They never smile. You ask them more than two questions and they would give you a sour face. And their face look as if they hate to be there and they can't wait to be somewhere else.

We seem to be able to erect buildings of massive proportions; of beautiful architecture and of monumental cost. But what we lack is the human factor. The mere fact that we did not even think of housing in that building a proper restaurant fit for the people who work there and visit the building speaks volume of our innate inability to properly plan a building and all it's necessities. (On this note, the Petronas Twin Towers also do not have a nice restaurant opened to the public on top of the building to enable visitors to enjoy the height of the then tallest building in the world and the sight it offers - strange!).

The World Bank has just validated what my thinking is. We lack human and  physical capital. And it espouses us to seriously look into "investment in infrastructure, equipment, education and skills" as we seem to need them in  "levels far exceeding what they (we) are currently experiencing."

The government will of course counter this argument by saying we have been producing thousands of graduates with skills in various disciplines yearly. Really? We have been producing graduates, yes. That I wholly agree. In various disciplines. Yes, I wholly agree with that too. But with skills? That I hesitate to answer.

I do not doubt the physical infrastructure that we have. The cost is however frightening. And the quality sometimes is doubtful. The usability is another matter altogether.

What is terribly clear from the recently announced initiatives though is the pittance that we are going to spend on education, healthcare and agriculture. The first two affect the whole country while the third one is the traditional rainmaker in our rural areas.

What that will create is serious imbalance between the haves and have-nots; between the urban and urbanites on one hand and the rural and its people on the other.

I am afraid that despite achieving the high income nation status (if ever we did), the gulf of divides in our society would just widen and deepen, bringing this nation into classes and sub-classes of people, each with different priorities and needs and with different attitudes, behaviours and social and economics - and even political - methodology.

As a nation, we would have failed miserably by then.


Tiger said...

Art, obviously you haven't been to the Petronas Club for a meal.
It's an ok place and the food is so-so, but the view is excellent!

galadriel said...


It is not the Petronas Club. It's called the Malaysian Petroleum Club and open only to members.
Of the entire article, u chose to highlight this fact? hehehe. but Art is still right, it ain't a proper restaurant for the public.

Philip Y said...

How does a nation progress in Human Capital Development when its government and even elements within the Opposition are still so intent on segregating the people by race and religion?

Name me just ONE country that's run by a sectarian government that's also listed in the Top 20 of the UN's Human Development indices.


semuanya OK kot said...

Form over substance. Inabilty to delay gratification. Lack of true education in values, as opposed to hypcrisy.

rob said...


"The thing is, Malaysia had no, notable or at all, industrial culture. One cannot start a culture by simply cutting a pink ribbon to a large industrial factory or plant. The support industries must be there. "

I begged to differ with you on the above statement.

We do have an industrial culture especially in electronics, oil and gas and hospitality. I am more familiar with electronics. The talent pool lies within the walls of the MNCs. Those that chose to breakout did show some success e.g. Industronics Bhd.

If you ask around most of the MNC factories in Malaysia are deemed as the best in class by their own corporations. Local operations like Intel, StatChipac, Western Digital, etc are the best within their own and within the industry. These are generally not publicised. Staffs do not leave as they are received good remunerations. I hear that some receive bonuses of up to RM3K per month. Some of these talents are also exported either by their own corporations or rivals operating in different countries.

A classical case is PY Lai who went from Intel in Penang to start-up Motorola in China. No mean feat.

We do have spin-offs by the supporting industries. Those in packaging, rubber-gloves, anti-static, etc. A Penang company, Eng Hardware started as bicycle shop to providing services for equipment of these operations till having their own product lines today.

The attitudes, work ethics and quality of the workers are exemplary. Unfortunately this is not translated or transferred outside the walks of the FTZ.

And finally, I said :-

"Whenever Malaysia unveil an economic plan, scant regard is paid to the human factor. We only focus on the money factor and almost nothing else.

Yes, I agree with you on the above statement. The skills of those folks I mentioned above came from their basics and opportunities to be trained or learned. Something which is not available if FDI dries up.

I do not know what are the selection criteria but for PEMANDU to select Berjaya University is a great travesty to all in the industry. In fact it smacks of cronyism but would other non-affiliated companies chose to invest more.

We have to consider both the availability and affordability of such education.

As I have mentioned elsewhere the private sector (non-GLC) have been slotted to invest in those ventures but will they? They prefer to grab the lower hanging fruits or get the Government to underwrite their investments or guaranteed profits.

Service of customers and maintenance are two of the areas which we are failing and have failed consistently. We just do not know how to make customers important.

I shudder to think about the proposed nuclear reactor especially with our shoddy work during construction and maintenance once they are gone. We can have all kind of bells and whistles in the alert system but if a ‘tidak apa’ attitude prevails today. We will melt all our way to Afica.

Finally do you serious think that private enterprises are willing to pump in 60% of the expenditure for something that is so risky? Think again.


rob said...
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rob said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Art,

It's NOT true that 'the "human factor" has always been overlooked every time our government launches an economic initiative.'

At least NOT this time round - in Jala's (ouch, najibnomics's) economic proposal.

Blogger hishamh has a take on this over Dato Sak's blog;

'3. Re: capacity and education. Actually these were in the detailed breakdowns in the separate labs. I spent an hour browsing through the exhibits, and barely scratched the surface of what's on show.

The media have chosen to focus on the investment numbers, not the pure policy changes. I REALLY like the changes in agricultural policy, which should have been done 30 years ago - phase out small holdings, and encourage a big business approach. That's the only way we're going to meet our food security needs.

On education, the sector will be opened up for private institutions (partly addresses the capacity issue), pre-school education will be formalised and standards enforced. For the qualitative part, we already have the National Higher Education Plan - my wife is a lecturer at a public research university, believe me changes are already being made. Whether these changes are the right ones are of course debatable.'

I suppose this 'missing shot' is more due to many of us DOES NOT have the time to read the details, after all the brouhaha MSM/internet reports.

I can understand why MSM chosen to mention only the headlines, but I'm mystified by the fact that NO creditable analysis reportings have been done by the internet community on drilling down to the details of the GTP10MPETPNKRANKEANEMSRI!

The only worry I've is that leaving all the human development to the private sector will exaggerate the dichotomy of the race factor in our industrial output. The Malay M'sian will be the BIG loser, purely due to their ATTITUDE, both work & religious-wise.

Anon@29 September 2010 15:50 has a very good take on this issue.

World Bank's report is a summary over the country WHERE the Malay M'sians' overwhelming number shadowed the REAL situation.

Anyway, let's give credit where is due, OK?


Anonymous said...


Who operate the canteen at The Palace of Justice?

1. a senior officer in JPA.
2. cannot write 3 sentences in English
3. his skill in licking is world class.
4. giving scholarship to his own kid to study in Japan.
5. drive a fast car.
6. using expensive golf clubs.

When you get so much from BN, why must you care about your teh tarik.

Btw, Vijindran, the fucker is a regular there to support the business.

Anonymous said...

All they care for is the money factor. Everything else is secondary. This culture has been carefully nurtured since politics take hold of everything else in our lives, which starts somewhere in the 80's i think.

Everything else is either privatised, politised, religionised or some say monopolized in Malaysia.

Is there any incentive/commission in developing the human factor?

These people is smart, they know what should be done for the greater good of the country. The problem then? They are too damn smart.

And these smart alec should just concentrate on politics and get out of economy, businesses, education, securities, social, religion, media, you name it.......

or else i dont see how the etp or ebb or the abc going to succeed.

Without the "culture change"(Art's terminology) or i would say "policy overhaul", That piece of "action plan" reads like a budget speech.

Yeah... dream big and dream on

Anonymous said...

Malaysia might be one of the countries in the world with the highest potential of development and income increase for the lower income groups, but is unfortunate hampered by attitude.
Too much imported labor, and mainly because the locals do not want the jobs for different reasons like dirty, risky, low paid.
To low productivity pr worker. Why does all electricians, TM people, plumbers or whatever always come in 'pairs'?
Normally one is 'working' and one is watching! Why not send one and pay him double? In reality this leaves half the workforce working and the other half watching.
Quality and quantity. In Malaysia it is all about high numbers and quantity. But do the Malaysians want to buy the products they produce and want to export?
No thank you, if possible the buy imported in hope of better quality.
It is all too much focus on the GDP and 'high income'.
If not changed, the result will be that from today with 1 Billionaire and 500.000 below the 'poverty line',tomorrow it will be 2 billionaires and 750.000 below the poverty lines!
It may look nice in the statistics but???

Au and Target said...

This is interesting. I often come across cases where good, honest, hardworking workers in Malaysia are undervalued.

Many friends who are cooks in coffee shops and small cafes, hair salon staff, and office clerks are paid less by the hour than the lady who comes to clean for me twice a week. And when these people move to another job that pays RM10 a week more, their bosses complain of lack of loyalty! No wonder so many good and willing people become discouraged and don't smile when working. I'd be the same.

pakpandir said...

Hello Wahai ARt

Wah dengar there's a gag order to all the press and bloggers inrelation to the suit against Measat/Astro, betul ke??????

Orang bisik semau dimakan oleh Astro sebabs they selalu belanja dan banyak yang dapat HDTV, free AStro la, paid holiday la untuk family. macam macam aku dengar....

Hmmmmm. vat maoney can do kan, macam tinggal di Boliva atau Robart Mugabe Kingdom.... yang aku pelik you pun tak, comment ke ke ke dapat ke??? TV besar tu lol

Anonymous said...

why do you all lawyers continue to call that place, hall of justice?

is that anymore justice emanating from that stinking place? Article 72 applies. Article 72 does not apply. that depends who is the plaintiff or respondent. damn, no one seems to know anymore. may be i should start to burn some certs now.

Holy Brother said...

Remember K- masyarakat /K-society,what happen?
Talk....talk......talk ...... and more talk.
Malaysia Boleh.....

AdaM said...

It is unfair that we have to pay more in order to get quality basic amenities like healthcare, housing, education and land transportation. The low-income earners are made to feel like pariahs in their own motherland. And the middle-income are slowly falling into the low-income bracket. Although this is a democratic country I can still see preferential treatments given to the filthy rich although they are the minority.

Anonymous said...

and the UMNO doctor found his rectum empty! what? where did the shit go? highly likely in his mouth coz "I swear guy" stinks high heavens with his lies.