The new dealers in hope

In this photo, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and Senator Kohilan Pillay hand over the Plantation Industries & Commodities portfolio to Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin.

Chin has moved on to head the Energy, Green Technology & Water Ministry.

Below, my boss made a keen observation when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced his new Cabinet line up.

RECENTLY, I met some executives who told me how hard it was for their company, a large multinational that has invested about RM3 billion in Malaysia, so far, to open new facilities.

They have done everything by the book and yet the top civil servant at the relevant ministry still said no. The reason was flimsy, with no solid data to back up his refusal.

I'm sorry because I have to be quite vague here. The executives didn't want the story to be out because they believe that it can still be sorted out without going to the newspapers. But the strain was showing, they were worried. They worry because it seemed like the government doesn't want fresh investments, at a time when it needs it most.

This illustrates one of the many challenges facing the new Cabinet line-up.

On Thursday, during the live announcement of the new Cabinet line-up on TV, people went oohs and aahhs, like watching a football match. I have never seen so many people in the office so interested in a live telecast. It was a slight disappointment to me, though. Only one ministry merger was announced when there had been more expected.

The new faces are interesting. Some of them named to the powerful posts were not those who were normally in the limelight. One colleague even blurted out "who is this guy?" for one minister who shall remain anonymous in this column. Maybe it's a good thing that the minister in question is not well known. He will probably let his work do the talking. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Asking ministries to set clear goals is a good move. Setting targets imposes a sense of unity and direction for an organisation and it does wonders for morale when the goals are met or surpassed.

Just look at Malaysia Airlines and what it has done under the helm of Datuk Seri Idris Jala. To do this, some of the targets need to be made public so that every one in the ministry can appreciate them and understand what needs to be done.

The next one month will be very important for our ministers as they need to put on their thinking caps and work out their key performance indicators (KPIs). I believe the new ministers will need all the help that they can get.

So here are two suggestions.

Ministers need to manage their time better. Pick and choose the right events to go to and make them short and sweet. Ministers also need to know the issues. This is where KPIs come in handy. The indicators make people focus not just on the targets, but also the problems.

Ministers should do spotchecks regularly to make sure their work is producing results.
Knowing the issues is crucial because there have been instances when reporters were left wondering if the minister actually knew what he was talking about.

French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte once said that leaders are dealers in hope. It means that leaders can have a big influence in the lives of others if they do their job well.
Now, let's get to work!

One Response to The new dealers in hope

  1. As a commodities market observer, I hope to see more incentives such as abolishing the windfall tax and provide more subsidies for smallholders to improve their yields.

    Windfall tax only serve to deter re-investment!!

    Electronic and electrical manufacturing activities are shrinking but palm oil exports is expanding. Therefore, I believe the new minister, Tan Sri Bernard, should seriously take measures to ensure the livelihoods of more than one million oil palm planters are intact. A lot of smallholders are Sabahans.

    The public is still largely unaware of the health benefits of palm oil. in fact, many assume palm oil is bad for health. The new minister should instruct MPOC to educate Malaysian public about the truth. If Malaysians have no faith in our golden crop, how can foreigners have the confidence in palm oil?

    In view of One Malaysia: People First, Performance Now, the new minister should host open dialogue seesions to gain feedback from the public.

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