1/1/12 KEEPING AFLOAT FOR OTHERS TO SAIL
(First, I studied at a Place, Jitra where he was the MP. Second, I met and argued with him when I was a student leader in 1982 over small matter: wearing batik on Thursday which led me to deepen my soul on patriotism, thirdly I briefed him two months before he retired in 2002 and fourthly I stood by him at the launching of Darul Hana in March, 2011 a month before I submit my early retirement. He inspired me when I was a boy, including my daughter, and to this day)
Bismillah Hirahman NirRahim. In the name of the Al Mighty Allah.
During my recent visit to the Indochinese countries (24th August-11th Sept.), I keep seeing the novel titled : Keep Alive My Son, written by a senior Asian Development Bank Executive by the name of Pin Yattay sold in many book stores and five footway. The novel, is about his long search for his son, who went missing in the chaotic era of the Pol Pot regime. I met him when I was dealing with both the Samarahan dan Kalaka-Saribas IADP (now called IADA) in the 1980s. The trip and the novel, inspired me to write this article. Accordingly a Malay proverb: Untung sabut timbul, untung batu tenggelam, further strengthen my intent. The proverb, signifies my life ahead.
I: Purpose and Gratitude:
The purpose of this writing is to share the hard and light moments that I have while serving the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) and PELITA Holdings Sdn Bhd (PHSB) since 14 Oct., 2002 to 31 Dec., 2011. LCDA was the third Sarawak State agencies that I ever served over my 25 years and 3 months in the Public Service. I was originally from the State Civil Service with the State Planning Unit (SPU) as my host agency. I officially retired from the public service by the 1 Jan., 2012. I opted for a premature retirement ahead of my official time limit. I opted for such a choice, firstly because I have no intention to come back to serve under the normal State Civil Service system. I have such thought since in 2007, but I have to respect the Chief Minister (CM) request for me to stay longer. In 2010, due to the State Election, I have to postpone the plan until I again met the CM in April, 2011 to seriously laid my request. Secondly, I hope I could realize my real potential, if there is a chance to work within the real corporate world. And thirdly, I just believe I should not hold to the same post for too long and depriving others. Nonetheless, my earlier reasoning to the CM, the Chairman of LCDA Board of Directors was, I just want to leave the State Service and if the State want me to continue to serve the State, I would just prefer to be treated on contract basis.
(2) My premature retirement as far as I'm concern has nothing to do with all those rumors that I might be promoted, transfer or as a preparation for me to join politic. All those, I never heard and never received any formal request or a hint from the CM. To me all those are mere speculation and nothing to do with me. My premature retirement is purely at my request and sort I have planned for it much earlier, even in 2007.
(3) I hope this writing may of good to some and as well as my way to say my deepest appreciation to all that had helped me to make LCDA afloat to this day. I wish LCDA will sail well and I pray, LCDA really the PELITA, the Malay acronym for LCDA ie from Lembaga Pembangunan dan Lindungan Tanah, that would Inspire and Bring Hope in the quest for Unity, Prosperity, and Health of the State and her people. In Malay, the word pelita means the kerosene lamp that was used in those days when electricity was absence. I used to study and grew up under the light of pelita. Thank God, I have served an Organization that I hope I have contributed well in shining some light to the people of Sarawak.
(4) I’m in deep debt to the CM of Sarawak, Pehin Sri Hj. Abdul Taib Mahmud (Taib Mahmud) for giving me a chance to hold and contribute in this position despite my earlier resentment. To place on record, he had inspired and guided me well as well as giving me lots of freedom on how to run LCDA. Not least appreciation to Tan Sri Hj. Abdul Aziz Datuk Hj. Husein, then who was the State Secretary as well as the Chairman of PELITA Holding Sdn Bhd (PHSB). Surely my earlier mentors, Datu Dr. Hatta Solhee, Datu Chin Jew Bui, Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot, and many other ex-SPU colleagues, especially the late Datu Masbah Ariffin, whom have given me lots of psychological support in running this LCDA. To all the LCDA and PHSB Board Members: Tan Sri Jabu anak Nyumpang, Datuk Alfred Yap, Datu Temenggong Stephen Jusem (then), Datuk Roland Sagah (now), Datuk Sri Tarmizi Sulaiman, Datu Hamzah (then), Datu Wan Alwi Tuanku Hashim (now), Datu Sudarsono Osman, Datu Chaiti Bolhassan (then), Datu Jaul Samion (now), Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Datuk Husein, Datu Abdul Razak Tready, and En Jumustapha Lamat, equally big thanks and appreciate to all the the bites and kisses given.
(5) I really appreciate the casual advice of Datuk Sri Tarmizi Sulaiman, the State Financial Secretary in some matters when I was down at many times. We shared many corporate views on the cost-effectiveness of running a public related office, while trying to achieve the commercial entities.
(6) I can’t deny the great support of all the Board of Directors and management of all those LCDA-PHSB Joinventure Companies. Surely, sometimes my quarreled with them will keep them remembering me. But one thing, I hope, the Profits gain from all those changes that I had demanded, made them forgetting about all those quarrel. I believe most will be smiling, hopefully forever. Money changed almost everything!
(7) To all LCDA-PHSB staffs that had dedicatedly work within the norms and directions that I have set, I really appreciate their patience, understanding and struggle to firstly afloat and now pushing LCDA-PHSB to sail even in the open ocean. I wish all the best of luck and my pray:”May Allah blessed your dedication and honesty in contributing to the effort of this Nation Building with greater strength, determination and success”.
(8) I recognized that those LCDA, PHSB, Sago Plantation, Magna Focus, Facilities Management, and all those related subsidiaries staffs that had been working with me, they really have to run. They have really sacrificed a lots. They have not enjoy the benefit of the service as they may wish, all, is with regard to my belief, we will never appreciate what we got through easy means, and surely my belief: The more we give, the more we receive, the more we take, the more will be taken away; In whatever we get, there is always others share in it. Doing good is all about sacrifice and struggle. To those CRAUN staffs, I just have not much time to mould them the way I believe a Corporate R&D Organization should be. Dr. Noraini Busri, Datin Dr. Zaleha Talib, Dr. Manan Gos and their supporting personnel, if our sago industry is to succeed, they are the real persons that the State must always remember.
(9) To some distance friends: Engku Husein Hazmi, Muhammad Husein, Junainah Solehan, Dr., Madeline Bema, Dr., Abdul Halim Hamid, Maizan Ismail, Intan Rahmah Tazuddin, Sapiah Daud, Daud Musa, Hj Kader Sahib, Wan Sulaiman, and Pak Yohanes whom used to teased me in my up and down mood, I love just to say: thank you and I hope I won't miss them to the end of my life.
(10) I really appreciate the way Datu Mustapha Han, the Chief Private Secretary to the CM had managed all my appointments with the CM. To me without his facilitation, I won't be able to meet up with CM as I might wish. He never failed to give me my cue, and the only thing that I used to promise him is on the timing. I always keep my appointment to the duration he agreed except my personal audience with the CM on the 26 Sept.,2011 where it took almost an hour instead of the five minutes that I requested. It is a farewell meeting. The CM talked and suggested various matters that I have to consider.
II: Concern and Oath
In June, 1984, I returned home from long absence in Peninsular Malaysia for my study. At the age of 12 years old I walked into this faraway world and began my journey into a lonely boy life. During those twelve years absences, firstly my grandfather, Kecut bin Othman, a migrant from Rhiau, passed away. He was very adamant with my dad and my aunty Khatijah, to have me and my cousin Supiah Tawan to have good education, when in those days, harvesting and tending to the coconut farms matter most. Then, my dad was gone when I just stepped into the Ivory Tower. All passed away in a state of despair, poverty and hardship. My returned in 1984 was also received with rampant poverty and hardship among the rural population especially in Simunjan. My Kampung, Terasi, my mother side Village, where I was born in 1960, was having no road, no pipe water, no electricity, no community hall, nipah roof surau, no proper jetty. The Village was just the same as I departed in 1972. At high tide, the village will be flooded by salt water intrusion, that turned lots of crops into fruitless effort. I used to carry the wet battery to Pendam, at least two hours walking to be charged to enable our family to watch Black and White 14 inches TV. I spent my hard childhood times at Kg. Sedilo, Simunjan, the Village of my father side, which in fact was worst than Terasi. A day after my returned, I went to see my mum and dad and I swear on their graveyards that I’ll fight against these poverty and hardship that had taken their tolls. I had promised, I won’t mind to walk-in and walk-out naked in my struggle. I have promised my mum to be a District Officer (DO), thus I refused all other jobs except to be hired as Sarawak State Administrative Officer, the SAO which could take me to my childhood DO ambition.
(2) In my young days, seated on the upper edge of our staircase, my grandfather Kecut Othman in fact used to advise me not to have those civil servants attitude that used to visit my village, making such remarks as:"Cantik ayam Pak Cik. Gemuk itik Pak Cik. Banyak telur ayam Pak Cik. Banyak buah pisang Pak Cik. Banyak buah kelapa Pak Cik. Nanti saya luluskan baja, cangkul, kapak, sandak, parang, dan skop". In fact nothing coming except their boats were loaded with the villagers kindness, sort of a thank you, coming out of their naïve and ignorance attitude.
(3) There is a saying in the Islamic teaching, once your parent had passed away, honored their brothers and sisters and those of their friends. My mum and dad used to have Malays, Melanaus, Bugis, Javanese, Iban, Chinese and Indian friends. All of them were real helpful to each other at the very hard part of the birth of this Nation. Those family socialization, I would love of honor as my spiritual link to my parents. I just want to serve across the ethnical boundaries. I just want to see all, as Sarawakian and Malaysian, but not necessarily I subscribe to the 1Malaysia slogan, that we live in a truly United, Prosperous, and Healthy Nation.
(4) As a matter of the State and National interest, my very concern apart from those disadvantage population plight, I was and am in deep worries of the consequences of the uprising easy going lifestyle especially among the educated, having, and young Malays and Muslim. No doubt they have gained to where they are, because they have struggled and gone through the process, nonetheless, the existence of the disadvantage among us is not without it own purpose. Allah made it clear about our Iman: "..don't ever taken for granted of your Iman, without being tested..." We can't be complacent, for instance having kids studied over sea, while they are kids among us just able to poorly scored at the SPM level. Our easy going lifestyle one day will take the society if not us into some trouble, by then, it is worthless to regret. The old day Chinese culture had a clear warning: Success will never last to the third generation which means, whatever we enjoy now, not necessarily we could pass it over to our grandchildren if we care not of the total welbeing of our society and nation.
III: Stepping Aside the First Love:
To be exact, I won’t be able to recall. It was somewhere probably in May or June, 2002; I received a called from Sabtuyah, the PA to the then State Secretary (SS), Abdul Aziz Husein (Datuk Amar). She wanted me to write my CV for the SS to have a look. I told her to write it down quickly since I have not much to say ie, firstly from 1 Oct., 1986-Sept., 1999 as the Assistant Secretary (AS) in the State Planning Unit (SPU), and secondly from Sept., 1991 to Dec., 2001 as the Resident of Bintulu, and then from 1 Jan, 2002 as the Director of the SPU. A real short career cv. Academically, I was just a degree holder in Botany from the National University of Malaysia (UKM) and later advanced into Master in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from the University of Colorado, United State of America. Academically was also very basic.
(2) But Sabtuyah requested me to write some more, which I said, I have nothing more to offer. My career and academic cv were really basic and such a short list. She then told me to write, what I have done especially serving the SPU for the past almost 14 years. Then I wrote those major socio-economic development planning works that I have undertaken, and in fact I was amazed myself to see all those works, there were about 52 of them, and seem I have done so much without realizing those. I then wonder what was that CV for. Later, I was asked by the SS to be a Board member of PORIM (now MPOB) on behalf of the State and also to sit in for him as the Board Director of UNIMAS which in both cases I was only able to attend once. Then I though, that’s it, and that was the purpose of that cv.
(3) In my kid days, my mum used to teach me not to boast around of what ever success that I may had made. The advice was always to keep to the low profile. Her Javanese blood probably made her to have such a discipline. Thus, such an implanted norm had made me shied away from any celebration of success all through my life. For instance, I never celebrate my birthday. Probably my ex-wife must be badly hurt, because I never celebrate any special day with her, and even with my kids. Therefore, when I was asked to write good thing about myself, I found it funny and I was very reluctant.
(4) Somewhere in late August., 2002, the SS called me up. I was not really that close to the SS both officially and personally at that point in time. In reality I was still far at the bottom of the State Civil Service hierarchy. Thus my interaction with him was considered very rare. In the meeting, I have lots of reservation. His initial remark was very simple: ”What do you know about LCDA?”. Spontaneously I said, the agency had been very quiet and I have not seen much activities over the Plan (8th Malaysia Plan) period. He then told me: ”You have to go there”. I asked him:”Which specific area that you want me to study?”. I asked such a question because as the Director of the SPU, one of our duty was to assess the cost-effectiveness of any Project or Organization and thus to put up whatever improvement recommendation to the Government. That was my thought at that moment, but to my shocking his replied was:”You go there, to take over the CEO position”. I was not really clear, probably naïve, I simply asked:”As what?”. Of course his answer was as the CEO, the GM of LCDA and CEO of PHSB.
(5) I was mum. I was so shocked. I was just 42 years old then, of which to the Sarawak Civil Service normal standard, I was anak umbelan: a raw stuff. I asked him back: ”Why me? I don’t have any experience in running a business entity. Academically and experience wise I don’t have such a capability. I love my job in SPU and I want to remain there. Even in that position I have been questioned, for I don’t have my Economic background”. In fact, tears come to my eyes. Not a happy one but a real sadden, because I have the dream to be the Director of the SPU, and there I was, being removed at a very short notice. I asked him:”Who asked me to leave and can I refused?” His answer was simple:”The CM want you to be there. You can’t refuse.” I was so sad. I can't find a word to answer him back. Real sad. I glared at him in blank. I then just thanked him and I walked out of his office holding my deep sadness. I later went to the washroom and tears came flowing hard. It took me sometimes to recompose before going back to my office. I immediately lost my mood to work, but was lucky, I have lots of meetings to attend, thus the sadness shied away fast.
(6) To be the Director of SPU was really my career ambition. I have been observing all those bosses: Jamil Mukmin, Datuk Dr., Hatta Solhee, Datu Dr, Wan Shamsuddin Ismail, and Nik Ibrahim Nik Mahmud, Datuk Dr., that I have served and I really admired their dedication to serve the State well. SPU taught me to understand the plight of the State and her people especially among the disadvantages and as well giving me the platform to think and strategize on how to develop Plans to meet those needs. SPU gave me the horizon of the State’s future, both in term of challenges and direction that should be taken. Though trained as Botanist, I had fallen in love with socio-economic development planning. I wish I could be a real great socio-economic development planner. The Director of SPU position would give me that chance. To me the position gives me all the advantage to fulfill My Oath and most important to translate the CM’s vision into Action Plans. He needs the support of the civil service to realize his vision and policies.
(7) In fact with such a dream in my mind, I made lots of preparation. I make sure I acquired the correct socio-economic planning skills. Trained in GIS and RS, taking up lots of economic subjects at the post-grad levels, as well as doing lots of planning research in numerous fields, establishing my inter-agencies networking both at the State and National level, and most important reading the underlining of the CM political agendas were among those that I believe would made me a better SPU Director. Reading became no more a hobby but a must to me. I read lots of books, journals, reports, and following those economic and business forum and speeches very closely. I really made lots of self-development and investment to achieve my dream. I really worked hard to the dream. That was the reason why I was so sad when I have to leave the SPU, I felt I was not able to make full use of my planning talent and inspiration.
(8) Two days later, I received the secondment letter, and thus I wrote in to request for at least be given sometimes for me to prepare all my handing over notes to the new Director. I later briefed Masbah Ariffin (Datu), my old buddy in SPU in those very raw days, whom was assigned to takeover form me on my nine months tenureship as the Director of the SPU. I presumed I hold the shortest period on the post at the age of 41 years old. My ambition accomplished, but I don’t have the chance to contribute much. I left behind the unfinished Socialization and System Dynamic Macro-economic Modelling studies to be carried on later. To this day, I believe, if the Studies had been properly comprehend, the current wave of divergence of perception and expectation among the younger generation as well as job demands and supplies issues could have been contained better.
(9) Somewhere in mid Sept., 2002, I was called to meet the CM at his residence. It was after Maghrib. He gave me few advices particularly now that I have joined the senior position in the State Service. Later I requested to be given about three months to have a feel of the task, and if I can’t make it, I should be given a chance to come back to SPU as whatever position I’m qualified. He simply told me to study, take my time, say six months and brief him accordingly. Later we chat on many other things especially on politic and the State Civil Service in general. I specifically told him that I have longing deep interest in politics but as long as I’m a civil servant I will abide to the rule and norm of being non-partisan. I need to know politic as guidance to my duties. He then shown me to the door after almost two hours of personal talk. While walking to the doorway, in fact he requested me to do two things, which I never came back to him for the feed backs:He asked me to talk to the three YBs from Simunjan area, to look for a candidate for the Parliamentary Seat of the area. He wanted us to identify non-civil service-based person. Secondly, he wanted me to come out with a list of Civil Servants whom I believe can do well. I did talk to the three related YBs and suggested for them to see him on the matter. I then requested that I should be totally out of the subject. As for the second one, I did nothing. I want to remain totally independent on the matter.
IV: A Glitch
The selection process for me to be the GM of LCDA as well as the CEO of PHSB was without much speculation. Nothing was heard prior to the issuance of the appointment letter. I won’t know how the decision and who really had made the decision, but surely the CM must have the upper hand. But I must say, the CM has his own intelligence. As I had written before, I believe, it started with the issue of the poor urban development performance of Kota Samarahan that he raised in 1998 ie few weeks after my returned from my Post-grad study. SPU was tasked to provide status and issue report on the matter, but due to time factor, I volunteered to prepare the Demographic Analysis and looking for some solutions. To me, the Report later given birth to the Desa Ilmu Project which now provided thousands of homes for the working population of the UNIMAS, UiTM and all other institutions sited nearby. That real about six weeks hard work to the level I really lost my weight, earned me the posting as the Resident of Bintulu. Wilson Baya (Datuk Amar), whom then was the Director of SPU, Hamid Bugo (Tan Sri), the then SS and Hatta Solhee (Datu Dr) where those, I suspected, were closely involved with my quick promotion.
(2) Surely when I was in Bintulu, my 14 years development planning experiences in the SPU really gave me great advantages in managing the socio-economic development of the Division. I made unconventional approaches in managing the affairs of the Division. I deviated my outlooks from that of a traditional Protocol-based to Development Management oriented person. I pushed everybody to work hard. That made a lots to be mad of me. I knew lots of complains being lodged on me. But I have one straight mind, I come to serve not to please. In order to strengthen the development management of the Division, I began to advocate to Hatta Solhee, who was then the Deputy SS that the staffs from the SPU should be given broader chance to lead the Divisional socio-economic development coordination. Later the suggestion was taken up by the creation of the Deputy Resident Post of Development to replace the Divisional Development Officer. SPU officers now occupied most of such posts. I believe, despite my low profile attitude, the CM did noticed my hard and pushy style to get thing done fast. In what ever capacity, my attitude was always: time is not my luxury. I don't like time to beat me!
(3) In many instances, I have always believed and pushed people to change from the normal ways they used to do things. I believe in Hamid Bugo’s saying:"Objective remained the same, but strategy must change, in order to get thing done fast and better". I also do believe that if past approaches or strategies are correct, surely lots of issues had been resolved. Since issues are still hanging around, then it is a great need for us to change our strategies fast to get things done for the better.
(4) My appointment as the GM of LCDA and accordingly as the CEO of PHSB was a big surprise to many. The news spread fast. A day after the letter was prepared, despite I have not seen it, I received two interesting calls:“You are so lucky. How did you do it? In 1998 and 2001 you was chosen to take up the N1 (now N52) job while you are still at N3 (now N44) without going through N2 (now N48). And now you are given Jusa B, bypassing all those N1, and Jusa C. What so special about you? Where are you leading next?”. All those statement were made on a very cynical tone. I didn’t give the guy any clue, since I have none. I just said:"I don’t know!" The second call was:”You really have strong cable brother. Who is your cable?”. Again I was mum. My mind and heart began to wonder. Were those compliments, or a beginning of a glitch in my career? Envy, jealousy, or even see how began to clouded my path!
(5) I was not perturbed by such a glitch. I took my job as a call to duty. As a military commissioned officer, that was the military discipline that I want to honor as far as the State need was and is concern. In the military, when a call to duty is funneled, one even has to forget about the warm arms of the love one, we just have to walk, pick up the weapons, and just be ready, aim, and fire or even willing to die for the course assigned. I must fight!
(6) Interesting to note, my secondment to LCDA was not placed straight to the Jusa B grade. In fact I was initially assigned only to take up the lower hierarchy ie which is Jusa C. I was the GM with DGM in grade. I never bother about this until two years later when I filled up the emptied DGM post, where the matter had to be resolved accordingly. The very reason why I couldn't take up such a position was due to my substantive position as an N2 person. The Jusa B, is three steps higher and that made me not eligible to the position. The only issue was, I have to do GM job, yet being paid DGM salary. That was the rule of the Public Service, and it just being applied accordingly. That how the system being sustained! Interesting!
V: Sense of Purpose
No doubt the hardship that I had experienced and saw during my kid life as well as being separated faraway from my parent, siblings, and relatives during my school days in Kelantan and Kedah had implant the thought that I must worked hard to liberate those pains and hardships that I experienced and saw. My separation from all those that I love at a very young age, probably what it means by the phrase:to endure to cure. I must survive as fighter!
(2) I believe, it is my very duty and responsibility to really work hard and smart to help build the Nation into a United, Prosperous and Healthy State. I love to see Sarawakians and Malaysians stand as One Nation that has great pride and responsibility over the State and Nation. Definitely, societal and national unity should lead to prosperity, where every span of life must be given equitable chances to make good living as an independent individuals, societies and nation. Healthy in my paradigm was and is about health, security and safety of the individual person, society and nation covering their health, lives, properties and basic rights. I hate to see all those suffering faces and disadvantages position especially among the Malays and Muslim.
(3) Life into the future is not going to be easy. The whole world will be struggling to survive. The weak if they don't change will be the slaves to the stronger one. The stronger if they remain complacent will soon be left to crawl, begging. Here on our soil, the individuals, societies, and the Nation as a whole will be fighting hard for their own living. The challenges ahead will be very volatile and different. The survival games will be very different and worst if we are not prepared and work hard to mitigate all those. I believe I have big role to play in preparing all walk of lives in the State to be ready to face their future with greater opportunities and lesser hardship.
(4) Thus, when in 1990, Mahathir Mohammed announced Vision 2020 as the national Focus Nation Building Agenda, I made a personal promised and believe to contribute to the best to achieve such a Vision. Knowing that Taib Mahmud development philosophy of Unity in Diversity, Politic of Development and making Sarawak the richest State in Malaysia, further strengthen my Sense of Purpose. I love those who are working and being close to me to understand my belief over my responsibilities to the State and they need to walk if not running with me along such thinking and belief. I'm willing to sacrifice a lots for such a belief and sense of purpose. I just love to see the disadvantages to have better future. There are still many of them out there, and time is a essence:...Demi Masa.... as Allah had reminded, and my life span doesn't last long, I would believe, I have no time to spare to a leisure faire attitude. To be forever fighter, I must understand the bigger challenges that the nation and society is facing far into the future, I stand` to such a principle!
(5) I once was questioned:"You talk so much about building a Nation, but how come you can't even manage your family life?". No doubt such a questioning sadden me. But that is a fate that I have to cross. Loosing the love one is not an easy deal. But at least, though I lost my love one many times (mum, dad, grandpa, grandma, dearest friends, lovers, wife and kids), I'm able to give my love to the Nation. I dedicated my love to the State. Not as an escapism, but as a repayment to all those loves that I lost. I just love to see people don't have to painfully walk on my thorny footsteps. I believe, I just have to love the State. In this world, one has to be scarified for the good of others!
VI: The Search
I reported to duty to LCDA on the 14 Oct., 2002, and the first thing that I did was to meet all the staffs of LCDA, PHSB, Magna Focus and CRAUN. I gave a small Executive Talks which as per my note, among others was: ”I believe all of us here are matured people. As matured people we should know our responsibilities, what are those expected out of us, and we must be dedicated enough to do a good job. I need everybody to work hard on that". Probably most of the staff didn’t realized, I was in fact giving A Military Order: do or out you go! The very reason why I made such a stance, because in the market at that point in time there were talks that LCDA had lost its aura and most seriously, the staffs discipline was really bad. Late to work, early back home, missing in action, frequent sick leaves, golfing and having long hour tea break were those of the cases always being referred. I believe, that were logical since LCDA had not much to do then. My training in the military taught me, in the army, once they have nothing to do, that would be the best source of disciplinary problems. Thus, a clear direction for the staffs to work on must be formulated fast. Even the blind need a walking stick!
(2) I believe, as an Organization and individual staffs should have their focus working area, in today jargon, Key Focus Areas (KFAs) or Key Result Areas (KRAs). They must be clear of what to do and expected. For that matter, I need lots of information. I requested numerous information to be compiled and passed on to me. I just want to apply the Military Training that I have at ROTU and Reserve Army, do Detail Appreciation, develop the Model of War, and Give Orders for wars. I declared my tasks at LCDA as a war. As a matter of war strategy and tactical preparation, one really has to do all the detail military intelligence and preparation. I began a search for detail information, about the staffs, the Projects, the Investments, Finance and many other matters. I was shock, a big and glamor Organization such as LCDA, they were very weak in Information Management System. As a start-up, I began to work on the Integrated WAN-LAN-based System and also revamping the Filing System. Luckily I have these exercises previously at R&DO Bintulu and the SPU. I just get my staffs to work immediately with the SPU on both systems. My old buddy, Teo Thien Hiong (Datu) from SAINS, help me fast to establish the system. A lacking in efficient Information Management System and as well as the Filing System had been used as excuses for the delay of information flow to me. In war, efficient information flow is considered very critical, a prime. At least as a start, I made the Corporate Affair Division (CAD) have something to work on.
(3) Further analyzing the staffs strength and capabilities, the LCDA Scheme of Service which was based on the Public Service System was found to be the key hindrance to really move them to their fullest capability as well as to skin them to their real tasks. The LCDA Scheme of Service didn’t reward the performer and capable well, and at the same time didn’t fairly treat the non-performer and non-capable accordingly. There were dysfunctional syndromes. The goods being overloaded while the bad, really have the gut just to shake around and just collecting the full salary without a feel of guilt. Compartmentalization of function was a common norm. Most seem reluctant to cross the line or even were very protective of their boxes. A clear no total teamwork. I believe, most don’t understand or purposely refused to work in a true Organizational spirit, where teamwork is the paramount principle. Office politic was the main disease. LCDA philosophy, values, and culture had to be defined and pushed. Sometimes in live I wonder why: People love to copy the bad, and few really stand for the good. Worst once few good guys push ahead, a lots will pull them back. I sense, there are some good guys in lCDA, but they just keep dormant, passive.
(4) One of the dominant roles of LCDA is to undertake plantations development. I could see all those investments need to be critically analyzed. The economic spillover of the development has to be monitored, projected and to be followed through with other development planning. For such matter, as per the information on land matters, it was even worst. Maps were poorly organized and located. No proper data-base was organized. I quickly embarked on the Geographical Information System (GIS) development. The manual practices of maps and plans preparation were discarded. Staffs were trained. It cost us roughly RM200,000.00. My network with Department of Land & Survey, Forestry, DID and JKR gave me lots of upper hand to organize the system quickly. My previous staffs at SPU, had remained loyal to this day to provide me with all the digital information that I needed. Rahim Tamel, Dzuren Hamzah, Lau, and Janaki were my source of all the information. Now LCDA have all the land data-base in both statistical and digital format. Our agro-rural sector planning and monitoring becoming much efficient. This made the Corporate Planning Division to start cracking their head to get the planning information in place. Whoever control information, he rules!
(5) I also made appointments to see all the previous General Managers beginning with Hamid Bugo (Tan Sri), Wan Ali Yubi (Datuk), Mustapha Besar (Datu), and Bujang Mohiddin Jol to know what were their original Plans and what have not been accomplished. My aimed was to look for some inspiration. Basically, I want to have my Baseline to start with. If not mistaken, Hasmawati Sepawi, Jamil Jamaluddin and Angelina Ujang were those that moved around with me to search for the ideas. Later I went to see Chin Jew Bui (Datu) the State Financial Secretary for some advice. Chin JB was my former colleague in the SPU. He put a challenge to me to make a turnaround for LCDAto be self-financing and surely to have a fresh relook at the Sago Plantation Project. We also talked on the need to speed up the Oil Palm Plantation development as the new and long term source of the State Income. I made a daring commitment to him: to start cutting LCDA operational grant by 25 percent on annual basis with immediate effect, and hold on to the Sago development funding until I have a clear idea of what to do. In fact in 2005, LCDA was cut off from receiving operation grant from the Government. We thereon survive not only to finance our operation cost but as well as financing for the capital injection requirement into all our JVs. If we never try, we'll never know our fate!
(6) Accordingly, I also made numerous efforts to meet lots of my friends who serve the State Service, seeking their advice on how I should move. Very frustrating indeed when most of the answers were:”Now you have been appointed there, then you should know what you should be doing. Soon you be joining the millionaire club brother. Don’t forget to pass us some”. Gosh, all those, simple remarks, really pressing heavy strain on my mind and heart. I was sadden. I have to keep my cries deep inside. Luckily my childhood experience and military discipline taught me to be strong and solitaire. In life, many love to join us laughing, but too few willing to cry along!
(7) Realizing my personal handicaps in the Business and Corporate Management world, I then make numerous trips to Kuala Lumpur to meet my related friends be they in the Universities or Corporate world. Though not much I could gain, but later I was led to read lots of books. I began to buy and really read lots of books on business, governance, financial and corporate legal management. Mid Valley, Bukit Bintang Plaza, KLCC, Berjaya Time Square, University Malaya and University Kebangsaan Malaysia Bookstores became a must visit places for me. While traveling oversea, I spent lots of money to buy books and shipped them over. I learned by reading and researching on my own. I began to watch movies on corporate and legal themes. I admire movies such as Anak Bapak by P Ramlee, Wall Street acted by Micheal Douglas and Few Good Fellows acted by Demi Moore and Tom Cruise. The Last Samurai and Gramin Mee are other great movies. Iqraq, as posed to Muhammad SAW pushed me to read and learn more at all time!
(8) Just to keep myself reminded, not to lost in my glory, I also read a lots of book on histories, biographies as well as those philosophy, psychology, novels on struggle and suffering and spiritual substance. To me, I must learn from people mistakes, rather I have to learn by making mistakes. Whenever I went traveling to over sea, the poor, the disadvantage are always my favorite subjects. I have their photos well captured. Songs by Abiet G. Ade (Indonesia) and Freddie Aguilar (Philippine) and all those poetic out cries of A Samad Ismail, Rendra, Chairil, Latiff Mohiddin, Ismail Marzuki, A Samad Said, etc stimulate the spinning of my right brain to keep my momentum sustained. At home, I collected those painful paintings. All are to remind me of my purpose, my true sense of direction.
(9) In fact keeping to my pickup truck, rather a much better car and as well staying in my small 690 sq ft shophouse among the have not, rather a bungalow or proper appartment, to this very day, were also part of my effort to keep to my grandmother advice:"Kalau sudah berjaya, jangan sekali-kali bongkak. Tak perlu tunjuk-tunjuk. Selalu ingat orang susah. Bantulah mereka yang susah". Lately I read lots on Umar Ibn Al Khatab, I was at peace to his characters and attitude before and after as the Khalifah. Now I'm studying hard to understand his Economic and Jurisprudence philosophy. I hope soon I will be able to develop community development model from his experiences.
(10) As days passing by, more and more issues cropping up. Some of the problems were there since the very beginning of the LCDA establishment. Among them were bankruptcies, dormancies, redundancies, delayed, non-start up, default payment, unfinished deal, and all those corporate issues. There are Projects that have great socio-political impact, declared bankrupt, yet salvage operation not seriously taken. No serious follow-up were made either to resolve or killed the matters. The frequent changed of the CEO within short time span contributed greatly to the indifferent attitude among some staffs. Most start to point fingers. The culture of blaming rather moving and cleaning a head, sustained. LCDA income and reserve were diminishing fast. These made me becoming very nervous. I began to have to think hard and searching for all possible solutions. My mind never rest. My soul keep wondering even in my sleeps!
(11) Going through the legal documents, there seem not much effort being made to really review all those documents. Copy and paste seem to be the norms. New governance requirements not well conceived and incorporated into the documents. Worst no serious Terms and Conditions enforcement seem to be in place. Legal action only taken once the problem had reached a deadlock. Thus, I requested a comparative study be immediately made. SALCRA, SEDC, STIDC and many others private sector sampling were my targeted. I requested the existing JVA, DA, TA, PA, MOU, etc to be reviewed and all those necessary T&C be incorporated. Unfortunately, my effort seem like pushing the Lowii Peak of Mt Kinabalu into the Kinabatangan. I have to scream to get some elephants (may be rhinos) to move faster. The Legal and Secretarial Division becoming my then focus enhancement areas.
(12) I figured out the very reason LCDA-PHSB didn't capitalize on others agencies experiences, among others was the compartmentalization of the Civil Service System as well as the egoistic character among the agencies. The word used by the CM to describe some issues arise due to my critical attitude over certain matters that involved other agencies was: "Territorial Fight". Everybody seem love to Keep to their Territory, thus any impeachment would be greatly resisted. I faced lots of them. Some were real fierce, frustrating. But I put my fight. That made me lots of silent enemies. But should I be a coward to the reality? I might have failed a lots, but at least I fought my battle.
(13) Accordingly, I wondered, when come to certain matters, the Malays in particular were and are very critical. Their sense of uncertainty, speculative, prejudice, and mistrust usually were and are very strong, yet when come to legal and financial matters, they seem to have a let go attitude. All I, believe because the Malays are very much lacking in business acuteness characters. This is where Mahathir Mohammed seem to be very correct when once he pointed out that the Malays in particular must master all these business legal matters both at the domestic and international level to make sure their personal, Organizational and even National interest will be well protected. The slacking of the English mastery among the Malays had contributed to their ignorance of most legal matters. This, in the long run is very dangerous!
(14) All these research works really had taken away lots of my quality sleeping and resting time. I began to get use to burn my candles to the early morning. I really lost my weight. I used to have only instant noodle Maggie as my dinner. Nonetheless, my deep interest to move fast keep my strength flaming well. At night before closing my eyes I just pray to Allah for helps. The Al Fathihah, Al Ikhlas, Al Falaq, An Nas and Kursi were and are my true guardians. I began to enjoy my discoveries and ideas began to flow in fast. In fact I was glad that I was single. Nobody would bother me when to sleep and when to stop working. I turned my home into a second office, with full set of computers and all sorts of documents. Books and musics were and are my true friends. I used to turn up to office very early and also used to leave the last. I just be the boss, as well as the office boy!
(15) Some friends had been asking me how I managed my life in such that it seem I'm ever ready to move. I always make sure I'm ever ready to take up next task at a very short notice. I was always on the move. The saying: in every successful man, there is always a woman behind him, seem doesn't apply to me, not because I don't need a woman, just I have to live without one, at least for such a period. To me once we are single, just be disciplined. Keep everything simple and easy. Never make situation to rule us, we must manage everything. I just make sure, in whatever deal, I have no personal interest and serving the people must always be in my heart and mind!
VII: I Got Stuck
About three months later I put short report and briefed the CM on what need to be done. Firstly to Re-Organise the LCDA Organization and Management (O&M) Structure to fit into the task that LCDA must be commercially driven without neglecting the social responsibilities as a public entities. I crafted the organizational transformation process from public to corporate entity. Instead of making LCDA prominent, I proposed its wholly owned subsidiaries ie PELITA Holding Sdn Bhd (PHSB) to take full responsibility as the Management and Investment vehicle of LCDA. I made close watch to the handicaps in the corporatization of the State Forestry Department. LCDA initially seem to follow the same footsteps. The underlying idea to this notion was to corporatize the LCDA Management, not LCDA per se. LCDA staffs need to migrate to PHSB. LCDA had to be emptied except to leave the GM position.
(2) Secondly I laid out to him that there were numerous redundancy and duplicating entities in the whole Group of LCDA. These need to be thinned down. Consolidation, merging, or even closure of some Companies had to be done. I could see, to facilitate such an exercise to be done fast, various personalities that hold the position as the Board of Directors of these entities need to be reviewed. LCDA management needs to have the upper hand to decide on the business course of these entities. Lengthy corporate exercise need to be initiated and this would take long time as well as probably will exhaust the staff energy. Cleaning up the mess is always not a popular job. I might have to step on many toes. I told him I may have to be a real bad guy. I believe the Walking Tall Movies, the character of Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood, the old mining actor, inspired me a lots. I made myself ready to hit and be hit back!
(3) Prior to preparing the Report, I did make snap visits to numerous LCDA investment areas. What I discovered was the Sleeping Partnership Attitude of LCDA staffs. The staffs who were in charge of the Projects or Investments were not really trained and even worst having no courage to stick their neck for the LCDA’s right, thus they can’t really steer the Projects to the intended objectives. When asked why they are so coward, their replied mostly sound great excuses: ”These people are big untouchable people. They have the cable that can hit you back badly”. I was not interested to verify those statements, which I assumed as a waste of my time and won’t make me an Independent Citizen of an Independent Nation. To me, we have problems to resolve, and we must find ways and means to resolve them. I don’t like living with problems. To me either I do, or if can’t, I must leave. I can’t be taking home rezeki haram, being paid but coward to move, coward to take responsibility. I'm willing to kill for good!
(4) Worst, most of the investors took Leisure Faire attitude toward LCDA since its shareholdings were mostly minority. I believe, LCDA’s right need to be exerted and protected by all means. LCDA staffs need to have certain tough and thorough characters and expertise that would gain them respect. I believe and hold to the principle that without LCDA whoever they are, big or small, short or tall, they won’t get the Project(s). Thus, they must recognize the existence of LCDA as the custodian to the State and the people right. This must be exerted by all means. The proper Corporate Governance must be put in place at whatever cost. Initially, I really faced so much resistence since all these while the LCDA staffs sort of took these easy, thus any pushing for change attract great resistance. I don't mind to take the hard stand. The staffs then must be properly trained and guided; lead. I took a kurang ajar role in handling those investors that failed to our investment objectives. If one want to know what that kurang ajar means, please read those statement made by Musa Hitam (Tun) when he was the Deputy Prime Minister. I agreed with him, since my young days. The Malays must have certain level of kurang ajar just as what Hang Jebat said: Raja adil, raja disempah, raja zalim, raja disanggah. Cowardy won't take us far!
(5) In fact most of LCDA partners in the Plantation sector are loggers. Worst, they continued to operate on traditional family-based business operation. Professionalism was very poor. Most of the investors tend to behave as loggers without realizing, they will remain in the same location or business areas for the next 25-60 years, not as in the logging industry, where they can quickly harvest the timbers and can forget about the area and probably only come back 20-30 years later.
(6) Worst, the executives who were in charge of the projects were not trained in the matter, they never dare to say what they have to say. In fact they don’t know what to say. To me it is just like the deaf-blind leading the blind. I need to work fast to improve on the capacity building. I initiated all sort of exposure, training, visiting, industrial placement, and really walk into the fields to show them what they should be looking when doing their Project monitoring and evaluation. There are times I walked tens of kilometers and dragging until late evening. Men or ladies, I just treated them the same. To me, they have to behave as real planter to get a real good quality plantation.
(7) Thus, I suggested that more real planter-based Organization should be brought into the plantation development in the State. I have dream, agencies such as Sime Darby to expand fast in the State. Accordingly, United Plantation, IOI, FELDA, Tabung Haji and many other bigger and much professional companies should be lured over. To me, these Companies would be able to impart greater field exemplary to these Sarawak-based Companies. I was also wondering, Sarawak Oil Palm (SOP) where LCDA has at least 25 percents stake didn’t do good. Accordingly, many times I have heard the CM suggesting that Sarawak-based Companies should move away from traditional family-based management and really be professional. Not many really heeded to his suggestion. I took all these as something that I must move fast and be brave on.
(8) Accordingly, I could see, LCDA had no far forward investment planning. Most of LCDA investments and Projects were public driven ie given. The real drive for change was not there. Properties and urban development seem to dance with the old songs. Serious initiatives to lure and thus to infuse quality investments to the State within its portfolio was not aggressively thought. LCDA seem to ignore the very basis of its creation ie to facilitate greater private sector participation in the State economic transformation particularly in the rural sector, and thus transforming the State economy into a much sustainable and quality development.
(9) The State in fact had awarded so much land to LCDA both for plantation and properties development. Nonetheless, as initially done, LCDA love to dispose those lands on outright basis, and really didn’t gain much from such transaction. I don’t want to waste my time digging on those, but had made my mind that whatever left, must be protected hard. Thus, I really go for long term partnership or holding in the plantation partnership dealing. I strongly recommended that LCDA must go beyond the New Economic Policy (NEP) quota of 30 percents stake in any venture. I’m more interested to have 40-45 percents stake since I could see, LCDA must work well in the interest of people partnership in the near future. In my last LCDA BOD meeting, the CM began to talk about this idea, and thus, I believe some foundation had been established and now is left on how LCDA could re-strategize at the later stage.
(10) In the properties development, the usual practice of LCDA was to dance to the developers rhythm. I could see, that LCDA began to loose most of its strategic properties holding. Returns were most in cash if not immediately sold. In the long run, I could see, inter-racial economic balancing act particularly in the service sector will be in great jeopardy. LCDA had not contributed enough in the sector, the long term contribution is considered marginal. Likewise, the way the properties development were undertaken, didn’t really bother about sustaining long term values and business operation. Boxes and boxes continued to be built. Green and public spaces were mere road verges and drains. We seem to continue building future slums.
(11) Sometimes, LCDA-PHSB properties development areas were politically sensitive. Many times, our development areas were infested with squatters. With the existence of such element, normally would attract both the opposition and governing parties to intervene. Mismanagement of the matter could land me in the hot soup. Fortunately, I have staffs as well as good support of the private sector who were able to manoeuver well in these areas. For instance there was a case were LCDA had to help to evict about 30 squatters in one urban development area. The squatters had created nuisance and vandalism to all those surrounding properties owners. The Member of Parliament (MP) of the area met and immediately accused me of having no humanity concern to evict those poor squatters without giving them options. Earlier without the BOD approval I sent our men to negotiate with those squatters to help them to relocate to any nearest low cost housing they preferred. We made arrangement to pay for a year rental or down payment if they choose to buy those properties. We even were willing to pay for the mobilization, utilities installation costs, plus some extra cash. My replied to his accusation was simple and killing: ”Firstly, do you accept anybody not related to you to stay in your house without your permission? Secondly, your objection for the eviction exercise, is it really you are concern about them or is it not merely your political strategy? You want them to continue to be there, so that you can show to all your voters how irresponsible are the governing authorities, they collect taxes and yet they are not able to provide proper security to protect those properties from being vandalize by those squatters. Is that not your hidden agenda? You care more for your voting by cheating them rather really working for those poor squatters. You just want to fool everybody. Do you want me to go public on these?”
(12) With regard to the sago industry development, despite LCDA had been tasked to take up the job since 1987, nothing much had progressed. My first visit to the Plantation really turned me sad. I reported to the Board, in fact we have 15,000 hectares of Midin Plantation, not Sago. We can’t point fingers where were the faults. Everybody seem to act too cautiously since there was yet any benchmark to follow. Sago remained as minor crop in the National Agriculture Policy. R&D about sago focused too much on the downstream. Sago industry continue to be seen as smallholder-based, a minor. Nobody really taking a look at Sago from the larger economic and industrial perspectives. Nobody in fact really understood the CM’s vision of the sago commodity. Sometimes, when I look at the Plantation, the works seem done to fail the boss rather taking the task real hard and work for it success despite millions of obstacles need to be crossed. The socio-economic aspect of sago smallholders was not thoroughly analyzed. So much money had been spent but the issues of proper plantation development on marginal soil had not progress much. In fact all through the years, I have been shouting, all those R&Ds must firstly focus on raw material development. The industry will lead to nowhere as long as the raw material issue never being resolved. I want the Plantation first. I stand with such a thought.
(13) Since 2010, I have a full hand on our Sago Plantation development, and I was stubborn enough to go against all those taboos set all this while. My belief, since the land given, botanically and ecologically not a natural sago area, thus, soil treatment is the main issue that I must resolve. Alluvial or at least shallow peat soil is our benchmark. Sago grows very well on these types of soil, and their characteristic should be our benchmark. My visit to Sambas, Papua New Guinea, all over Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thai, many island in Indonesia, all support such ecological notion. Now our people are working on this last idea. In fact I have promised the CM that I would resign if I fail to deliver a good Sago Plantation. I believe by end of 2013, with the dare method that we are now taking, some significant result will emerge. Alhamdullilah and InsyaAllah, now I believe our people began to buy the idea. I’m proud to have people as Wenton, Nayan, Abo and Faizal who are ever willing to take up the challenge. I believe, their ears had been flooded with my screwing, but that is a planter discipline. They have to accept such a life. A though cursing live. That made all the Mat Salleh managed Plantation different from the initial native-managed plantations.
(14) Of course there was an idea of international sourcing of sago raw materials. I have been covering almost the full breath and depth of both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) sago areas. There is no doubt about the resources there, but the biggest challenge would be on how to Organise the Resource Owners when there are millions of them. I have many times having talks with the Right Honourable Prime Minister of PNG, Sir Micheal Somare, on the need for them to have the resource owners to be organized. To this day, I have yet to see the serious move acceptable to our investment needs. Nonetheless, I have not given up to the task as I know, the long term economic importance of sago as human and automotive renewal energy source. All these technologies are now available, have been commercialized by those in Kuantan and Klang, and to really advance into the sago industries, the basic issue of raw material must be resolved first.
(15) LCDA was also tasked in helping Land and Survey to ensure good enforcement on river and sea sand extraction. To my surprised, the sand operation management had not been properly organized into a much systematic approach. There were 11 Companies doing the same business segregated on regional basis. A clear one job done by too many hands. The Companies running the business were left to their wimp and fancy. The Management of the Companies were really in chaotic. Office politic rooted deep into the Companies. Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) simply absence, for ease of maneuvering. Different standards were applied in different regions. Too many people had authority to approve sand extraction permits. I can understand, things run based on merit and situation, but along the way, there must be serious improvement made. To my simple analysis, the chaotic nature of the sand operation was due to too much externalities and LCDA management had lost control of the matter.
(16) In view of LCDA-PHSB heavy involvement in the Plantation development, especially in the NCR areas, the Organization has to facilitate a proper salvage logging within the area. All this while, this was a minor works but could be greatly abused. With the expansion of the NCR land development, a proper system has to be developed and this is really though since the matter is new and can be very sensitive especially among the NCR landowners whom sometimes were alluded by some quarters who has all the hidden agendas. I made an instruction that, assessment on logging operation be dealt by multi-discipline personnel with procedures well defined. All calculation must be made based on some scientific consideration.
(17) Basically, to enable LCDA to be a prime State Economic Transformer or Engine of Growth, I could see that two basic prerequisites on equal priority order must be done, ie Restructure the O&M and all related matters with PHSB as the Management and Investment instrument, and Restructure the whole group of Companies into a much thin and lean structure. LCDA need to move not only as investments facilitator, but must also to take the driver seat and dirty its hands to really be a developer.
(18) In the discussion, I briefed the CM that these were the tasks that need to be done fast, and those would be very tough for me to handle due to my lacking of experience and capacity. He looked into my eyes and said:”Who else will do all these?”. At that point, I remembered my mum and dad words, they always advised me to take my responsibility. I then just said:”OK. I will work hard”, a commitment, a promised I must fulfill. Thereon, my sleepless night began.
(19) My proposed Plan was divided into phases: Phase I- Organizational Restructuring and Corporatization (2002-2005); Phase II- Business Streamlining (2005-2009), Phase III- Business Expansion (2010-2012), Phase IV- Conglomeration and Public Listing (2012-2015).
(20) To date I would say, our transformation process of LCDA-PHSB had been on schedule. Phase I-III of the proposal had been well executed. Robust expansion is underway with the approval of the various investment and business approaches by the BOD on the 26 Sept., 2011 meeting. Further consolidation and thus public listing could now be geared up if not by 2012 at least in 2015.
(21) My leaving in 2012 is to allow one with better Corporate Management Skill to take on me. I believe I have put all the foundation in place, and the next 2012-2015 exercise, need greater Financial Maneuvering. I’m not an expert in this, but with lots of physical plans in the pipe line, I believe LCDA have no problem to do what had been planned. I believe I have chosen the correct timing to leave.
VIII: Phase I-Dismantling the Rock Solid Castle
As I have said, I treated my tasks to turn around, to initially to make LCDA to afloat as a war. I have to declare war, as time was an essence. Firstly, my secondment is on two years basis. To me that is a clear signal, that I must perform, get thing moving fast. Secondly, which is paramount, LCDA must not fail in its duty as engine of growth. LCDA is sentimental to the CM vision to transform Sarawak into the Richest State in Malaysia, if not the Super Rich State of Malaysia. To me the vision is noble, and it is a must for me to make LCDA significant. The turning around of LCDA is a must-fast job to be done. Any delay would amount to the closure of the Organization. I can see that, I can feel the CM had lost his patience over the dysfunctional syndrome in the very Organization that he had crafted to steer the State into a greater socio-economic virtue. Huge rock was placed onto my shoulder, on my head in fact, thank god, so far it didn’t crack my bone or skull. I'm alive and kicking as my buddy Baijuri Kipli used to say.
(2) First thing first. I began with the Management Corporatization of LCDA. This is the strategy that I believe that would allow me to crack on those bad working culture that we have. LCDA staffs need to migrate to PHSB. A New Scheme of Service and 360 Degree Appraisal System with the Balance Score Card (BSC) as the principle were developed and enforced onto PHSB. Many people were cynical about my approach, but time had proven that I made my way ahead of others even the JPA. The adoption of the BSC is a meant to give the staffs a clear direction and quantified achievement that they must accomplished. A clear path must be paved for everybody to walk on. Don’t asked me how did I got the idea. I believe, I just work hard. I read a lots. I pray to Allah for help. Ideas just flow in. I get it done. I dare to try.
(3) The development of the Scheme and System really took painful effort since there was really none that we can benchmark. I have to rely heavily on those literatures review particularly picking up from all those Harvard Business Review, Petter Drucker, Potter, Maslow, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, etc writings. I really have to push both Agelina Ujang and Alina Abdul Razak to work and have their soul on those. Trial and error method applied. The new Scheme of Service placed heavily on performance and capability as the key rewarding areas. PHSB was planned to be the operational mechanism of LCDA, while LCDA remain as policy maker. I visualized the corporate status of the PHSB as a mean to move the staff to strive hard, focusing their attention into running a business, and as well as to reward them without too much red tape as in the public sector; the bait and the baton were laid. I dream to use LCDA as a platform to breed executives that having real corporate working culture, but with people interest at heart. I want to nurture and bread, professional and business Malays and natives. I see that was the underlying that Allah implied in the process of Muhammad prophethood.
(4) Purposely I was not interested to corporatize LCDA the usual Government way. Not only it is going to be a lengthy process, but worst I would again still be governed by various constraints that won't allowed me to really make PHSB into the real corporate entity. I just need PHSB to operate as a real private company. Speed, efficiency, and profit must be the paramount considerations. My focus was and is: performance. Everybody must just deliver. We are hired to deliver! Nothing less!
(5) A thin and lean Organization was designed and adopted. I cut on the layering. I dismantled the compartmentalized working culture. I move fast and hard to turn everybody to be an execution person rather administrator. My focus was to have an Inverted Pyramid Manpower Model ie more of those having diplomas and above qualification. I cut drastically on the recruitment of supporting staffs. I believe, since the application of IT and electronic system were emphasized, all those works previously done by the supporting staffs could now be done by the executives. My intent was very simple, I want to handle more income and productive works rather busy managing the staffs. I have visited many public offices in Darwin, Australia in the 1990s and as well as observing the American Office Management System when I was a student in the State in 1996-98, gave me the belief that Inverted Pyramid Manpower Structure would be the best to run a much efficient business oriented entity. To me, more staffs, especially if there are too much lesser educated levels, mean more Human Resource issues to be handled. That would waste lots of my productive time. I want to have a ratio of 3-5 Projects to an executive, rather 3-5 staffs to a Project. My belief, an executive should be managing different Project Life Cycle, covering: Initiating, Just Starting, Midway Started, Almost Completed, and Completed. My idea was, so that they would learn from the full cycle of Project Management. Hopefully with such, they really know details of their works and thus able to make efficient decision to get the projects cost-effectively implemented. In the Japanese culture, detail attribute to percission. Everybody should aim to deliver a perfect job!
(6) The Thin and Lean Organization is defined as a much linear and thin layering Organization. Chain of Command has to be drastically shortened. Senior Management accessibility to the grass root levels must be simplified and as much as possible having greater direct access. There is a Deputy GM post in LCDA, but I kept the post vacant. I refused to fill up the post. Many friends lobbying wanting me to take them into LCDA so that they could capture the post. I just said ‘no’ since to me this type of people they are just interested with the post, not with what demanded out of the post. I have observed, the deputy position could create Office Politic and worst, it created redundancy. It was not the time yet for LCDA-PHSB to have a deputy GM or CEO post. In the case of Robert Elone, I gave him to take up the post, was a mere reward for him to retire at a higher position or else he will just be retiring like what happen to me now, at a very low scale. The same treatment was accorded to some others.
(7) Next after me were the Senior Managers (SM) whom are heading the related Division, then supported by various Managers. It is a must for the Senior Managers to have a Post Graduate background, failing which he or she will just be awarded Performing SM. I love to have even the Managers to poses the post-grad qualification. To me, higher educational qualification meaning better strategizing and decision making abilities. The Manager post is not permanent. I adopted the University Academic Staffs Management System. The Manager position will be rotated among the capable and good performing executives. I have close eyes and ears on those who occupied those positions. Purposely I made the post and the person holding it feel:bagai telur di hujung tanduk, great positional uncertainty to keep them performing and be capable. I believe, majority of the staff of LCDA-PHSB are natives, and their complacent attitude must be constantly challenge, I don't mind to be bad to crack those damaging attitude.
(8) I abolished the term driver, typist, clerk, office boy, maid or what so ever as used in the Public Service to designated the supporting function of those staffs. To me, with such connotation, is a serious reflection of compartmentalization, and worst, that would create the greatest barrier to our need to streamline and having multi-tasking and multi-skilling working environment. I used to criticised the casta system in the Buddhist and Hindu culture, I also don't submit to feudalism, thus I make sure I realise my hatred on such a system wherever I'm. I used the term Management Assistant, which I believe could then give them an image of how important they are to the Management Group which is classified as Executives, doesn’t matter whether they are engineer, accountant, lawyer or whatever. I used the term executive in place of officer, to signify that their role is to execute. Meaning they must be a real ground person, not office person, an officer. A real execution team work Organization was and is my main aim. Whether this will work on the long run, I leave that to time to proof. At least I made an effort to try. Well somebody must dare to fail, to succeed, to endure, to cure. I don’t mind to give a try.
(9) I practiced job rotation. It is part of our multi-tasking and multi-skilling development strategy. It is now a condition in the Scheme of Service. In the early stage, I practiced six months job rotation. I started with my Personal Assistant (PA), who was rotated among the ladies typist, clerk, junior executives and executives. Many people complained they found it difficult for them to deal with me since I keep changing my PA. Despite such, I found it was very effective to eliminate the syndrome of the PA is more powerful than the boss ie being bias and favoring when come to allow for who and who to see me. Accordingly, my idea was to get these people to be well exposed to the overall affair of the Organization. For some executives, the PA posting would give them chance to learn and master English and as well as to build their confidence level especially for those who didn’t poses degree in the Management and Public Relation matters. They are also to realize what would be the effect of their carelessness or slowness onto the others to perform better. My driver and those ferrying my kids to school were also rotated. Definitely I faced lots of handicaps when all these rotations were taking place. This sound funny, but I believe, a long search need to be experienced to identify the right peg for the right hole. Other staffs were not exempted. Job rotation applied to everybody if not by post, definitely by regions or projects. Inter-subsidiaries placement was and also continue to be practiced.
(10) With regard to the drivers, I encouraged (in fact forced) the executives to drive on their own. Those previous luxury cars were disposed and replaced with pickups. My idea was again simple: I have seen a lot in the US and Australia, executives drove pickups and they acted more as blue collar executives rather that while collar one. I want to nurture the culture of Blue Collar Society, the execution society among our executives. I also was not happy seeing, while executives were sweating in the fields, the drivers sleep nicely in the air-conditioned car. I have seen and experienced too many bad driver’s attitude in my public service and even in over sea such as in Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, all not because they are bad, but the bosses were equally ignorant and indifferent. Most of the time, the drivers acted more like the bosses rather a humble P Ramlee in Labu Labi. Personally I seldom being driven around. If I have to attend meeting where parking would be an issue, I will get my executives to join me in the same Official Mercedes, which initially they seem reluctant. In fact, I have one reason to do that:to do quick homework for the meeting or I have some ideas to throw to them to work on.
(11) There was a case where I travelled to the field with a lady executive, Khuzaimah Suut. Upon reaching a narrow rural road, with both deep side drains, and we need to turn back, so I passed the manual pickup for her to drive. She refused, since she only know how to drive an automatic car. I made it clear to her: she drives, or she has to leave the service. With tears, she drove and she made it. To me the ice has to be broken. Complacent norms need to be discarded.
(12) When my executives took the driver seat, I normally seat as the co-pilot. This is where I’ll observe his driving characters. I normally hate executives who drive by trailing others. I love to see them overtaking fast but safe. Those who drove in a very uncertain or even couldn’t be careless would get my immediate screwing. To me one's driving characters would reflect his (her) preparation, speed of thinking, firmness of action, confidence level, surely courage and risk adverse. As I have said, all are tested, man or woman, junior and senior. Personally I love driving, fast and sometimes a bit wild. On the Peninsular Highway, sometimes I took the wheel to 140-160 Km/hr even in the rainy road.
(13) I read, Dr. Mahathir love to drive. He drove around KL to see which trees not growing well or which road not maintain properly. The same with personalities such as Azman Hashim (Tan Sri), and Tony Fernandes, I believe. I noticed, Taib Mahmud also love driving. I met many GLCs and corporation CEOs who love driving. Twice I was driven by Tan Sri Lee of IOI. He drove just like the F1 drivers. His two hands were firm on the steering. His eyes focused to the distance while keep talking to me. I believe, such characters have to do with their entrepreneurial drive; dare to lead, explore, and dare to break the norms. Would be nice to know whether Nik Aziz Nik Mat ever drove on his own from Kota Bharu to Kuala Krai.
(14) Under the same principle, in fact, I made it sort of compulsory for our staffs to make it to the Lowii Peak of Mt. Kinabalu. Since I came into LCDA-PHSB, most of the staffs had made it there. In the initial stage, most refused to go, since they have to undergo rigorous physical training. In fact they tried to avoid the physical training. My usual statement then was: "You guys must make it to the Lowii Peak. If you can’t then, I have to terminate your service, but it is compulsory for you to pick up your termination letter high up there". Again sound unreasonable. But what is the hidden philosophy? Lowii Peak is the highest peak in Malaysia and South East Asia. If the highest point in Malaysia we dare not want to conquer, now tell me what else do we want to attempt? To me Lowii Peak is just a symbolic challenge that LCDA-PHSB has to face. The staffs must have the determination to crush the challenges. I just want them to realise, to be at the top is a painful journey.
(15) Take Linda Wong as a case, whereby she told me that her family want her to join a trip to London, instead of going for Mt Kinabalu. My argument with her was simple: In life we must create a history. If not for others, at least for our own sweet memory. Going to London, not a big deal. Bought a ticket, buckle your seat belt, close your eyes, and you are there. If you later happen to talk to your kids or grandkids, they would just smile cynically of your ‘London Trip History’. But, if you made it to Lowii Peak, would the story or history line not be much appreciated? She made it. She told the husband, the different feeling that she gained after conquering the Lowii Peak as against going to London. Again, I believe pushing everybody to break the ice is not easy, but once done, they know what that would mean in their lives. A history of our own must be made by ourselves.
(16) On recruitment, my emphasized was and on regional distribution, ethnic representation, and diverse academic background basis. In LCDA-PHSB we have Indian, Penan, Orang Ulus (Kenyah, Kayan, Lun Bawang, Berawan, etc), Chinese, Bidayuh, Iban, Malays (Melanau, Kedayan, Malays, Javanese and looking for Bugis to complete the set). Regional and ethic mixed would give me a cultural mixed, healthy competition as well as to avoid the syndrome of cliques. My most concern was about people correct attitude ie willingness to learn and really come to serve. The idea was simple, these are the people who know best their regional and ethnical needs. I believe with such, they would work hard to bring better development to their regions and people. I always remind them of such expectation. Nonetheless I sort of forcing everybody to work as a team, fast and smart. It sound hard, but what choice do I have? I don’t favour heroism. I also emphasized on non-ethnical biased when one discharge his or her duties. I keep warning them not to behave as typical Natives, Chinese, Indian, female, male or whatsoever. Chauvinistic is what I really want to avoid. Everybody must just be professional. I strictly want everybody to work in team. I don’t favor Office Politic, I don’t allow it. I don’t favor side lining. I was and really damn sensitive to all these attitudes. I keep close eyes and ears on these. If I discovered any sense of Office Politic, I’ll move fast to eliminate them. I don’t allow the fire get wild before putting it off.
(17) I also hate people trying to pull my legs, if any, I’ll just tell them off. I really hate this bodek, ampu characters. Once, a very senior person, while travelling with me, though his hands was full of his own luggage, yet he made hard effort to take care of mine. I don’t see the necessity, I don’t need it, and I told him not to do that a second time. There was also another senior person, whom loves to greet me at the lift lobby the moment I arrived to the Office. After sometimes, I just told him off:”Don’t you have better thing to do? Don’t just be too stupid to keep saying good morning when in fact it might be raining out there!”
(18) Recruitment is a very important exercise. Many times I took the interview process personally. My interview normally is very informal, where I’ll take the shortlisted candidates for lunch. Along the way I’ll observed the way they walked, their gestures, their overall body languages, and while eating or sitting, surely lots of reflection could be deduced. While eating I would ask lots of stupid questions just to pick up on how alert they are, and sometimes I do asked annoying questions to test on their Social Intelligence. I learned all these tricks by reading lots of psychology books. I really need people who can take what may it comes.
(19) In the future, if I have the chance, I would develop a selection criteria to precisely check on extrovert, introvert, left-right brain user, listener, observer, toucher, etc as the KPIs for the recruitment process. I believe I’m comfortable to high speed thinker, analytical person, strategist, decision and action maker, confident, self-improvement lover, and surely highly accountable and responsible colleagues. Well, to some, these might be too much, expecting people to be as you. I’m not expecting another me, I just want people close to me work as close as possible to mine. Well, does elephant play with monkey? Do geese fly with the parrots? Or cats fool with the dogs? Think about that? To me I have duties to accomplish. There are great expectation on me. I can't be leasuring around as if time is in my pocket.
(20) I remembered when I joined for the official interviews, once a person said that he loves to join LCDA-PHSB is because he/she wants to serve the State. Such a statement definitely would attract my outmost attention. I used to drill such a person to the level, he/she would later just admit, he/she just want to earn a living. Such a person definitely seldom made it to LCDA-PHSB. My understanding on such matter is simple, people have to be honest from the very day in their life. Once they bluff, they would love to bluff again and again, the Malay proverb: Anjing kalau sudah biasa makan najis, kalau tak makan, menghidu pasti mahu applied. Of course I also have numerous tricks to track smokers and drinkers. I don’t understand why people must smoke and drink when almost every religion and health expert advice otherwise. To me, smokers and drinkers, they poses so many behavior that seem interesting to me; a free Brownian Cloud Dance of the Smoke. The military training taught me a lot on how to catch these characters. My trick was just simple: ”What is the best cigarette brand or liquor that you most enjoyed?”
(21) Functionally, I move both ways on equal priority and fast. One was to clean up all the messes. On the other hand, I began to look for new Projects or Investment areas to work on. The idea was simple, though the Board of Directors (BOD) thought otherwise, ie I must work on the cleaning job first. Among the staffs, there were those who were good in cleaning up, and there were those were good in moving forward. If I chose only one path, then they would be a redundancy of resource on one end. I need to maximize the resource utilization. This is in fact the practice in the military discipline. Nobody should be left idle even in the very peaceful time. Definitely there are some who just don’t bother except their own interest. I want to identify fast who and who. I assigned many tasks by groups and selected individuals. Deadlines were set. Regular discussions and field visits were organized. Pressures were forced to get jobs done fast and better. By these ways, I began to see some true colors: green, orange, or red among the staffs. All these allowed me to have first hand observation on the staffs’ attitude and skills.
(22) In the area of human resource development, I gave ample chances for people to be trained. We spent lots of money to train our people. We spent lots of time and money to get them exposed. I always bring along those new people when I go for my field visits and even for high level discussions with the potential investors and with the CM and ministers. I never missed bringing new recruits for my over sea trips. I don’t differentiate between genders. My principle, one gets same salary, one has to deliver equal quantum and quality of work. It sound cruel, but did people really heed fast to kindness? I normally love to see them moving and really spent time to appreciate things on the ground and get to the root of the issues. Fast and end results were my prime concern.
(23) Transforming LCDA-PHSB into a Learning Organization was and is my determination. Staffs were trained to have good skill to handle their subjects. All our Agro-executives, for instance must attain Diploma on Plantation Management. Both formal and informal training were given. Staffs were even requested to take full paid study leave with scholarship to do even at the post-graduate level. We encourage those staffs who are doing their Post Grad to take subjects that differ from their original first degree level and which are very much related to the business nature of PHSB. I was lucky to have the UKM Faculty of Business-Economy then was headed by Prof. Fawzi, which gave me a green lane to send as much personnel as I wish for their Program. Upon graduation, I expect them to have post-grad mind and characters: thorough, decisive, courageous, innovative, dedicated, and pushing, failing which, I just want them to leave and pay back all the study cost.
(24) Equally important, I made it compulsory among the executives to read. I am damn believer in self-development. Reading is about self-development, developing oneself by oneself. It is part of their annual target to give me six book reviews. I get damn mad if they don’t pay serious interest in this. I remembered ordering the executives to buy and read those books on Toyota: Toyota Way, Toyota Culture, Toyota Extreme, Toyota Kata, and How Toyota Became # 1. Though now there are the Toyota Leaders and Toyota Under Fire, I left those for them to explore on their own. To me Toyota is the only Organization that have a comprehensive written documentation on how from merely a sewing machine producer to now the #1 World Car Producer. In this sense our Dewan Pustaka dan Bahasa is very weak. In Indonesia, those books had been translated into Bahasa Indonesia. Same with books on Steven Jobs. I have not seen those book in Malays. I also didn’t see much Islamic books in Malays, which is very different as compared to Indonesia. What would all these mean to our future destiny?
(25) To me, we can talk and talk about integrity, but we don’t have the culture and system that could really nurture integrity. Toyota had shown the way, through the the Samurai culture, not only Toyota could be an excellent cars producer but they are also excellent in developing their people and keeping them dignify; clean. I believe, Toyota is the best Model that I must seriously adapt.
(26) It was and is always my interest to train others. I love to share my knowledge, experiences and skills with others. I took pain to train others as long as they are willing to learn. The only thing is that I hate tortoise. I love monkeys, I love dogs, they learn fast. I have passion to train, I lost patient to slow, worst lazy takers. I subscribe to long term development. Others love to pick the best. But who then help to build? There is a serious breach of Islamic principle if we just love to take but stingy to give. I love to give but shy to take. Thus, anywhere, I love to train puppies, and leave the dogs running around to hunt. That how I act. I travel with new staffs. I left those seniors to explore on their own. I just observe from the distance, but I don't lost my sight on any. I observed all. I sense everybody.
(27) My Management Principle was: strategic direction set, tasks clearly defined, target set, training reasonably provided, exposure made, chances to gauge one talent opened up, and reward well defined. On yearly basis, all Divisions and subsidiaries are to produce their Annual Work Plan based on the Balance Score Card format. These later to be translated into individual executive Work Plan and Target. With such, I believe I have all the tools to hammer those who are not performing and taking care those who really doing the best. Basically I have a clear demand of the staff character, attitude and performance. Whoever can’t fit into the system, I made all efforts to get rid of them. My stand is simple, PELITA is not a welfare Organization. We hired them to work. They applied to work, minta kerja, thus once engaged, they must serve to the level demanded. I was and am not interested with their best, but I demand the best. To me their best will be a mere excuse for not really delivering the best as much as their best will not necessarily the best. So we recruited people because they want to work. No second thought about it. That was the principle. That was the original oath and basis, I want people to keep to what are basis. They must come to serve well, where possible a mile ahead.
(28) The initial two years ie coincidence with my first term in LCDA, my focused was to revamp the Management Structure and Working Culture of LCDA, shifting from lukewarm public-based work culture to Fast and Cost-effective Corporate Working Culture. In actual fact, there is not much different between the two except, a mere rebranding for morale booster purposes. To me both public and corporate sector, as long as it is not run by the shareholder(s), the red-tape is just equally tedious. Nonetheless, moving into Corporate Culture mean I have a much flexible Mode of Working Processes since the Organization could come out with its Self-owned Working Procedures which could be streamline to meet the speed and quality demand of the Corporate Management. Nonetheless, it seem everything are about gut, honesty, and being professional. Even in public entity, if those qualities are there, the Organization could also move even better than the Corporate agencies.
(29) Nonetheless, initially to gain the Board mandate for me to have greater and much flexible autonomy is not an easy task. Firstly, the Board was still having the stigma that LCDA had failed in many areas. The LCDA’s past keep haunting the Organization. The LCDA past also misted my trail. Secondly, I’m new and have no track record in managing a corporate entity, thus, I presumed, they would love to have a close watch on my attitude and act first. This is a real P Ramlee in Tiga Abdul movie, where one can have a wife but he has to sleep in the barn and not with the wife. The main issue was about how confident the Board was with me. This was a real damn though for me to proof. How could I achieve that?
(30) Realizing this, sometimes made me deep sadden especially, personally I have to face all these in a very lonely life. In fact my gastric problem mounting since I can’t anymore having quality sleeps and most of the time I lost appetite to eat. Due to sleeping disturbances, I used to have prolong cough. That later I found, making my tummy muscle being pressured unnecessarily and thus, now I have a porch, hernia, into my soft abdominal tissues and if unattended fast may cause intestinal rupture. I have to take a surgery (Oct., 28, 2011). The first two years in LCDA was a real emotional and health hazard to me.
(31) Nonetheless, determination, straight sight, honesty, and hard work would give me the upper hand on many things. That how personally I see the attitude and characters that I must have in moving such an almost dead elephant. I then made a no fear no favor stand.
IX: The Toyota Way
If one read those books about Toyota (seven of them), one should realize, the wonderful culture of the Japanese is all about their meticulous characters. From the top, to all levels of walk, the Totoya survival and grandness are all about being meticulous. Everybody knows details of their duties and responsibilities. Everybody have and complied to the set of norms and process. Everybody is accountable to their act. It seem the Japanese (Korean and German) really complied to the Quranic calls: …you are accountable to all your deeds….
(2) The American at once, was amazed at the wraps speed of growth of the Japanese technologies particularly wrt the market expansion of the Japanese automotive in America. Thus they studied the Japanese Management Culture, which gave birth to the concept of Quality Management. Production Quality Procedures were developed through rigorous and intensive analysis, taking care the issues of productivity, quality and cost. They organized lots of team researches and discussions. They work as a team, to develop working procedures with the only purpose ie to be ahead of anybody, everybody.
(3) I personally believe in this culture. Thus, the informal Quality Control Circle (QCC) working process were introduced, where by regional or Divisional basis, the Senior Managers and Managers were to meet on weekly basis to look at their performance and thus to discuss issues related to non-performing and or underperforming. In the past, I used to have Top Level Monthly Management meeting to see to the effect of all these. Nonetheless over the past two years, I have distance myself from all these as part of my strategy to prepare them to be on their own and also to enable me to leave the soonest.
(4) Nonetheless deviating from those widely practiced by many others, I'm not interested to certify any of our Working Procedures. As per the Work Process, we almost have all of them, and we never have any intention to certify them as most if not all ISO Maniac used to do. My reason is very simple, certification is a matter of control. A process must not be changed at a whim and fancy of everybody. Thus to control such, under normal paradigm, it must go through certain process, and the best is certification. Accordingly, certification is also about ensuring the thoroughness in the preparation of the process. To me what matter is about the basic principles; control and thorough. But we must remember, things never be stagnant, thus our system must be fast enough to respond to the need of change. In this matter, I would love to record my displeasure on the unnecessary pushy attitude of the HRDQ Division of the State Service that seem to love to see how much certificates an agency got on all these rather focusing on the correct KPIs for good service deliveries. I believe, they don't have a clear understanding of what are really needed out of the public services by the people and systems.
(5) In devoid of a formal certificate, in formulating and thus enforcing our Work Process, all those basic principles are well safeguard. My contention is basic, we must focus more on correct process and result. It must be the presence of process and result. Both must co-exist. But, a process not necessarily be formally certified to get the best results. Take for an argument sake, do we need to certify a process on how to write a good business letter or even to catch a thief? What about, is it not to our commercial advantage if our process is certified in producing natural sago flour for the Japanese market? Thus, my concern is the form of the result to be achieved. If it is merely common services, thus, I don't see the logic of having a Formal Certified Work Process. If the resultant products or services are of market importance, then those need to be Formally Certified. In office management, most of the resulting works are of no market significant. Certification cost money, cost time, cost additional works. Why waste our times and resources to matters that are not significant to business growth?
(6) In fact the way many agencies implementing say the 5S system is a joke to me. Go and visit our Wisma Bapa Malaysia. Is it not weird to see all those labeling indicating all the switches:fan, light, air con, chairs, tables, potted plants, dustbin, lift switch, water tapes, all those. Did we really see these in Japan? If that is really practical and logical, why not personally we do this:label our shoes, which is left and right, our pants, our under pants, marked all those on our bodies where and how to used them. Will that be good?. To me psychologically, the Japanese who come to our place will feel proud on how their culture, JIT and JE (Just Enough) are well accepted by Malaysian. But on a second thought, will there not be a glitch in their mind:" Emmm....Malaysia, they have to be reminded all the times to be good! We indeed is making a mockery of our excitement!".
(7) Well all these hard headed attitude of me made me very unpopular. I'm not interested to be popular. I'm not an artist or politician who earn based on popularity. I stand by my principle. In anything that I did, I just want to confine to principle. Once principle is laid, I must be left alone to be creative to achieve the desired results. If 1+1 can be 1, 2, 3,..∞, then I don’t have to be limited to which course I must take. People should focus on results. I meant results.
X: Phase I-The Killing Field
The initial two years was a real painful years for me. These were the years of learning, as well as the years of actions. Since it was hard to know people true color, I played with my gut. Those seem deserved to be promoted under the LCDA’s Scheme of Service, I made an effort to promote them. Even those who had been frozen, I de-froze and gave them chance to show their abilities. Once promoted, I hammer them to keep to their expected performance and quality of work. Failing which, the door is always opened for them to honorably walk-out on their own before I got my voice on them. I made that clear. They promised to abide.
(2) One thing people should observe: I promote before I hammer. I gave people 100 marks, before I scale them down. Probably I was inspired by Allah deed. He created Angel, Satan, Adam and Eve in heaven. A perfect place for all His creation. They misbehave, earth down under they go. If they repent, heaven is theirs if not, well you know better. In me, in you, there is the Roh of Allah, His breath, part of Him.
(3) In fact all through my tenure in LCDA-PHSB, people have come and go. Wave came in, also wave got out. The market began to hear the rowing lion. I really acted as cowboy, as some said. I normally run, I seldom walk. I want people to run beside me, not behind me. All the footsteps must be at equal pace. Of course many would say: ”Hey, everybody is not like you!”. To me is such a statement of reality or merely an excuse not to work hard to deliver? To me I just want to see that people just work hard and be smart to deliver. Whether they can make it or not, I will make my other thinking later. I have to shoot, when I need to shoot. I don’t give a damn mercy to those who were indifferent, dysfunctional, worst those who by all means try to place their personal interest above the Organization. Over the past nine years, at least 70 percents of the original LCDA-PHSB staffs left. That is nothing to be proud of. Some left not because they were not good, but with my full blessing and regret, among them were: Lee Boi Hua, Hasmawati Sepawi, Jamil Jamaluddin, Angelina Ujang, Linda Wong, Yong, Karen, Alina, and Abidah. Those were good staffs but they have to leave for the better. Some were by default, retiring. I was not keen to reengage those who had reached the retiring age. I came across so many job applications from new breeds. But of course most, were with my great pleasure; pressure. Some did left, but made a turning back, vis Bibi Umaizah, Rosmah Sulaiman, Norizan Hj Ismail, Monaliza Zaidel, Saiful Bahari, and Zuridawati. There were some more wanting to come back, but I refused to accept, because I have not seen they realized their handicaps and thus improved on those. I have my intelligence as well. To me for those whom demanded to deliver but chicken out, and worst abandoned the ship when it was sinking, and yet later as the ship managed to afloat throuh hard effort of others, they decided to turn back, to me they are just prostitute. They look good, yet they are just whores, just worth to a F**k and forget!
(4) One thing interesting. So far, none of those leaving LCDA-PHSB was unemployed. It seem they are people out there who love to pick up those staffs that walk-out of the Organization. All I believe, because our failing line is 65 percents as compare to most if not all at 50 percents. Sometimes when I met the new employers, those taken by them seem to appreciate those hazard that they experienced while serving under me in LCDA. I believe they only realized my direction and reasoning the moment they are out there. That is the norm. We only felt, what we lost rather appreciating things while at hands. Unfortunately, too many too coward to admit.
(5) There were times where the staffs by coincidence, left in block. Under normal circumstances, the Organization can get paralyze if such thing happening. I was lucky, during my varsity days, in the ROTU, I really mastered the military discipline, whereby in a war, the group must be well prepared in the leadership and role players succession to the very lowest level. In this regard, my rotational, multi-skilling and multi-tasking strategies really had helped me to immediately overcome all the missing gaps created by the staffs who left. Personally, my acquaintance to do both macro and micro-management also gave me lots of advantages. Probably, all these were due to my loving of walking around. The only matter that sometimes disturbed me was the so called all sort of external rumors and accusation made in the market when such things happening. But then I just focus to my work to deliver. I don't give a damn concern on rumors. In many cases, in fact, the day an executive report to duty, I would have a feel whether he/she will stay long or not. I have my instinct on my people tenureship. I also can feel whether the person will meet my standard. But in many instances, I give them the benefit of the doubt. My instinct usually never fail.
(6) My grand mum’s advice:”When one does (says) bad thing of us, we must not waste our time thinking for revenge. We should just focus our mind to move into the next better steps. Just do what we have to do”. This Harvard Standard advice really help me a lots. As my responsibility was not really to bother on those but rather making good of LCDA-PHSB, thus I tend just to ignore such noises. I know, there were so much complains about me being handed to the CM and SS, my faith is only one:I’m employed to serve. Even Muhammad SAW many times had to face death threat, so should I worried if I have to face ‘just a small challenge’ as compared to him? I know to this very day, the CM had always want me to be a bit softer. He was very concern about the effect of my toughness to my health. Nonetheless not that I don’t want, it is simply I can’t. Let think: Solomon, Moses, David, and many other prophets including Jesus Christ and Muhammad, almost all of them were soft and kind. Did their people listen to them. If so, why then we have so many prophets, thousands of them. As a botanist, I observed, in the forest, the forest stand because of the presence of big strong trees not because of too much lalang. Lalang can attract fire and thus destruction. This Law of Nature of Allah gave me something that I must stand.
(7) My shooting normally focused on the senior echelon of the Management Group. My belief was real simple:the head lead the tail. Bad head, created bad body, and definitely the worst tail. My stand for the staff to be clean was sent the day I walked in. There was a staff while tasked to do land banking for the NCR Project, he took the opportunity to registered empty land onto his and family ownership. I told him off to get lost, despite his warning that he was somebody’s relative. To me, I don’t care who he is, what I care is an honest and responsible person. I don’t believe whoever his somebody want him to do dirty thing while serving the public. Also there was a case, where, I have to make a stand to fire an executive. The matter was then referred to the Industrial Court. In fact I used the case to develop and enhance the PHSB Scheme of Service and as well as the Appraisal System. In the case, I, in particular was charged being biased and act upon hatred to fire the executive. My present staffs and even those who had resigned were called to witness or testify his claims. I could see some game plan among those testaments. Some surely were with me, and some, trying to pin me down. But I have one fate in heart, the truth must prevail. My line of defense in the court was very basic and simple and I stand my soul to it: since before I came, all reports pointed to his not performing. Despite such, I gave him trainings, exposures, rotated him around to see where he can fit, and have assessment made and made known to him. I even called him to talk on his bad attitude and performance. But he failed to realize his duties and responsibilities as a person who need to work in an Organization which the very concern is to serve the people. The defending lawyer and the judge, tried to make me admitted that his non-performance is all about discipline issue, and thus I have not fire him on the right procedure. I didn’t go through the Domestic Inquiry (DI) process before I fired him. To me, I’m a military trained person, I know where they were trying to lead me, thus, I refused to accept their suggestion. To me DI is about getting the correct fact, and giving the person fair chances to defend themselves. He had been given too much, and he failed to understand. He deserved his treat.
(8) In most areas, I believe in continuous improvement, termed as Kaizan in Japanese. Nonetheless it must be done fast. We must learn from one or even others' mistakes and quickly build our strength on such. In Islam, most people understand how the Al Quran was progressively revealed and each surah is either to strengthened the former or as to take care of the future issues. Nonetheless, despite such an understanding, I could say, the Muslims, especially the Malays are the least to really understand such a beautiful philosophy that must be adopted on how they must improve themselves: continuous improvement as said by Muhammad SAW:...keep learning till you die or if need be even to go to China. In this day, do Muslims have to go to China to learn? In Malaysia, just open your doors or windows, are not the Chinese just be there? To me, the Malays, the majority of them (us) are just not thinking enough. We can’t think to learn from what is there surrounding us.
(9) To many, my character is very much associated with the ruthless cowboy. I really hate and push those who can’t deliver to the wall. Harsh words were my game. There were joke among my people:”Don’t let GM raise his English voice to you. Once he did that, you will get all the f**k, sh**t, and all sort. Your tummy will also be filled up with burger”. It was in fact not to my liking but, it justified since, I have requested them politely in the very beginning. To me, they invited me to treat, thus I treat and I'm ever ready to face the consequences. I have trained, gave them chances to do the best. They can’t, they deserved to be treated fairly. As far as I remember, no one, among those who were not performing would love to leave voluntarily except one by the name of Rodziah whose academic background doesn’t match with her job then. In fact I tried to persuade her to stay since she has good attitude, willing to learn, though slow to pick up, but she insisted to leave. I respected such an honest character. The rest I really f**k and sh**t them off. They are some who took my f**k and sh**t hard and fight back, but, I know now, deep in their heart they regret, just that they are too coward to admit. When I did or said what I feel must be done, I have only one intention, to improve, to deliver to the best. Though, there are thoughts, saying: not everything done by being hard, then I just love to point: I don’t made my house posts or walls using banana stems. To those who sound Islamic in their advice, let me put it this way: read more of Abu Bakar, Umar Al Khatab and Ali Abi Thalib characters and administration ways. Or read more to include Abu Suffian, Abu Zaid, and those Muhammad SAW war allies whom had helped him to expand Islam the fastest.
(10) For those who had been ignorance about history let me point these: Does the Governor General of Malaya and Sarawak, left because someone smile and said to them they must leave? Was not the blood of Rosly Dobby and Suntong pay for it? China, without Mao Tze Dung, will China be China of Today. The same with Ho Chi Minh, Stalin of Russia, Churchill of Britain, Eisenhower of America, Hitler of German, Napoleon of France, or least Mahathir of Malaysia. Let analyze and think.
(11) I normally rewarded those who can take my harassment positively. Those harassment were my endurance testing. I took serious observation on those who could think fast and act immediately to all my hard criticism. I simply look down to those who drift away with my criticism. Worst if they are men, which to me, they don’t have b*ll. My belief in the matter was that, we are in the very challenging business world, thus the threats in the open out there are very wild and hard. Worst since LCDA-PHSB is a GLC. Both the public and the private norms and needs have to be satisfied. My interest was to prepare LCDA-PHSB staffs to be ever ready to face those real world challenges.
(12) My Management style, to some is petty. But to me, fire never start big. Thus I really go after time wastage habit such as reading papers or magazine in the office, grouping and chit chating or gossiping, having long hours break, late coming to work and even leaving early from work. These sort of habits, to me, are thieves. Leaving the light on when they are not around, taking longer hours out of office assignments as mean to escape the office or even as a mean for to earn extra income, style of printing, even in writing letters were also my areas of concern. I used to check the stores, and really get mad once I see too many things loaded in the stores. To me a store must always be empty. Nothing should be stored. I even make sure all our official cars carries both the State and National flags. Even the executive desk should have both flags. To me everyone must be kept reminded of their struggle to build the nation. The nation interest must be their foremost concern, failing which they must not be around. I’m not leading an Organization for personal gain. I’m leading an Organization for the people. That was and is my stand.
(13) I was glad in fact to see that the LCDA-PHSB junior staffs, they really responded fast to all these values and changes that I tried to impose. Some even are much better than the executives, not only in term of works, but the command in English and Social Intelligence. Among them, I put my hat high to: Norashikin, Maimunah, Carol, Hayati, Melati, Ley Ping, Stephanie, Jaya, Asmadi, Chang, Jamaluddin, and Rahman. To me almost all of the junior staffs behave and worked well. Thus, when doing salary adjustment or even increment, I used to make sure, they must also be well compensated. The executives seem to die hard with their complacent, couldn’t careless habit. May be they are graduates who gained their degree with lots of leniencies, I speculated sometimes. Many of them posed the who care attitude, the Organization is not theirs, they just deserved to be paid, they seem to exert their right but ignoring the Organization right. These were the people that I’ll never took out of my mind, either they must change or they must leave. In fact, to this day, I believe, I haven’t touch any of the junior staff, almost all of my targets were the executives, except in two cases whereby LCDA-PHSB drivers being seconded to another agencies, upon their returned tried to influence the other drivers and office attendant to demand for overtime (OT) work, failing which they would want to stage a mogok. In such case, I told the CAD Senior Manager to encourage them to do so, with such surely, I can turn their rice pot upside down with immediate effect. This was a clear bad attitude of the so called some Civil Servant, they took OT not because of the need to get the job done, but as a mean of earning rezeki haram.
(14) My hitting hard approach in managing our staffs was simply as part of my strategy to gain quick excess to highly accountable and capable human resources. If they are good and or willing to learn, I'll build on them. If they are not, initially I'll give them chances to change and improve fast, failing which I'll hammer them hard. Many times I warned our staffs that LCDA-PHSB is not a welfare Organization, and its purpose of existence is to serve the people thus, whoever in LCDA-PHSB must uphold to such a purpose: Serving the People. They must be fully accountable and capable to enable them to be able to serve to such a course. I just want those who have such spirit and resilience to be around us. I really need a great team that work hard for the people. Thus, I have to take a hard way to achieve those fast.
(15) Definitely, the way I handle our staffs made sometimes the CM and SS worried. They used to send signals over the matter which I most of the time took serious notes. But as I said, the market normally took my HR Management style very differently. I stand to be though to our staffs realizing the fact that, firstly I need to serve the people, ie the State. Thus State interest is paramount. Any hindrance to such an effective service need to be corrected if not eliminated. Once I hit, I will hit hard. Nonetheless my rewarding for their dedicated contribution most of the time were and are unconventional, and thus most failed to see.
(16) I have one thought in mind, I love just to see those who graduated from LCDA-PHSB, especially the natives executives are those who have business characters. To me, the natives are just good in administration. They are not there when come to business. The colonial master had implanted such so long into our brain and` heart, but we never dare to admit and to depart. Thus, I never heed to my dream even though it cause me lots of pains. Thanks god, I'm used to endure to cure. One has to suffer if not die to make others to realize. I don't mind, that fit into my philosophy of Walking In Naked, Walking Out Naked and I was told by a Chinese friend, Sia Hong Neng, Dato' that was similar to what being said by one of China Prime Minister: "When I take up the PM job, I had prepared nine coffins. Eight for you guys (his senior cabinet ministers) and one for me".
(17) Lately I have been thinking hard. I began to realize my Human Resource Development gaps, where hypothetically I would say I have failed to inject the soul into LCDA-PHSB Corporate Culture. To me, I’m now working to see how the Singaporean and as well as the Muhammadiah of Indonesia able to infuse soul-based characters into their people. I hope, my decision to send about 20 people to Singapore National University special design course by Feb-March 2012 could be honored. Let learn how the Singaporean (Chinese) way of thinking, characters and action that could made them from mere Apek to what and who they are. In my heart, sometimes I asked: "What else should Allah place infront of the Muslim to make them think and realize?"
X: Phase I-Establishing the Mover
As a person groomed in SPU, I have a Die Hard attitude toward Planning. As I have earlier said, my wish to serve the SPU was so that I could be a real great socio-economic development planner. Since I was rooted from such a dream, thus I need to refresh the dream, in another form. My oath with my mum and dad that I will strive hard to work for the poor and the disadvantage must be kept alive. Upon thinking hard, I then see that LCDA-PHSB could give me a much better platform. Not only I could plan, but most important, I could also realize the plans simultaneously. I could see my brain and my energy could be simultaneously synergized, into the new found love. In fact such a love affair gave me all the strengths to remain aggressive, courageous and focused to this day.
(2) I always dream to transform those idle lands especially along the Serian-Sri Aman Highway, Samarahan-Sadong Jaya-Simunjan-Sebuyau corridor, Triso-Beladin-Debak-Kabong Corridor, Daro-Matu Corridor, Balingian-Serupai-Kuala Tatau Corridor, and as well as those Coastal Region of Miri and Lawas into a much vibrant economies. These areas in fact, during the Poverty Study done by Prof Ishak Shaari, Prof Osman Rani, Dr. Junainah Solehan, and Dr. Madeline Berma of UKM were fishing-based communities and thus poverty incidence was real bad. I have been working hard to bring whatever development to these areas since I was a very junior officer in the SPU: FELCRA, IADPs, DID schemes, and the Rural Growth Center (RGC) Program were introduced to the areas. Nonetheless due to shortage of public funding, the effort fruiting just peanut.
(3) I also began to realize the Native Customary Right land (NCR) development to tackle the poverty and low-productivity issues among the rural native communities was greatly slacking. Out of so much areas being approved for the development, not much effort had been made to push hard for the opening of the areas. The NCR development program, which was conceived as a smart partnership between the private sector and LCDA as trustee to the landowners on 60:40 equity structure, was formulated on a rather rigid approach. The acceptance of the Program among the natives was very sluggish and irritating. The critical issues ie the need to capture the economic of scale of the development and as well as addressing the immediate poverty and income issue among the target population were not well addressed. Basically, the Program is lacking in the fundamental of the socio-economic consideration ie immediate income compensation. Despite all those, now land dispute among the communities had dragged LCDA-PHSB to expensive court affairs. The matter will be mounting in the future if certain changes not made fast.
(4) I was real lucky for being able to persuade Tabung Haji Bhd (TH) to participate in the Beladin-Meludam NCR land development. Due to the initial sluggish pace, Datuk Rashidi, the then TH CEO agreed to my suggestion to give the participant RM60.00/ha/month Income Compensation from the start of the plantation works. Now, almost all of the NCR Projects adopted such approach but at the different pricing based on the investor ability. I managed to mobilize TH as the pioneer in re-strategizing the NCR development Model. I hope, with such arrangement, the people would gain immediate benefit from participating in the Projects.
(5) Equally sad, numerous pieces of Stateland approved to LCDA for Plantation development had not been properly engaged. All these slow down, to my belief was the key reason why the State rural economic transformation did not materialize as expected. LCDA, as one of the key mover to the State rural economic transformation had not taken up its position well. Thus the very reason to the failure of the RGC Program was due to the lack of economic forces inter-play which is considered as the key to the success of any commercial dealing. In this regard, despite so much accusation of LCDA slowness in implementing the RGC Program, I made a dare stand that, such Program should not be promoted until and unless the economic foundation of the region had been properly developed. I also could see, if the Plantation sector is moving well, the RGC could be initiated on private sector basis and the Public could just be regulator and infrastructure support providers.
(6) To me, plantation development is critical to support many other economic activities. It has been proven for many times, it is a savior at lots of global economic down turn. Opening up land for plantation would spur the construction sector, and thus later the mining, manufacturing and services. With such chain effects, definitely demand for properties development would come next, thus urbanization of the rural areas becoming much feasible. If we could see that, then we would work hard to the State dream. We must work hard now to prepare better job opportunities to our younger generation. PKR, DAP, SNAP, and all those opposition parties purposely ignoring this fact. For what?
(7) In the properties development, I believe LCDA really danced to the want of the developers. The needs of the healthy urban and neighbourhood built and as well as the economic restructuring of the nation was poorly addressed. Despite the existence of the NEP spirit, or even the semangat to help the natives, but those seem to remain largely as paper documents and the real implementation effort seem didn’t jive with the policy statement. I believe, the main issue here was with regard to nafsu ada, tenaga tak ada ie there was a thought, but how then to turn those thought into implementation framework and action plan was greatly missing. My Sept., 26, 2011 audience with the CM confirmed this when he said: I have difficulty to get people to understand on my development policies and turn those policies into Actions. I could say, policy and development gaps and needs analysis was really missing within our present State Civil Service system. If this is not quickly rectified, I would say, sooner our administrative system will be greatly diverted and even derailed by too much political interference.
(8) Probably true as one of my blog reader commented: today, there are so many people who NODE, but they won’t do what they NODED, and so many people who can SHAKE, but they don’t stand to what they SHOOK. A very interesting observation indeed. Why? I believe, these are the new generations that we (our generation) had wrongly built. We had given them all, thus they never thought of the possible rainy days. The Arabic proverb applies: A hundred years into the future, is determined by today generation. Our past suffering misted our paradigm in developing our future generation. We developed our new generation along: Menatang minyak yang penuh rather taking the harder stand: Sayangkan anak, tangan-tangankan, sayangkan bini tinggal-tinggalkan. Especially the Malays they have great philosophical norms hidden in all their proverbs, but probably they had forgotten all those, thus they are losing fast. To me Rais Yatim has a lot to do in reviving all these great cultural values of the Malays. I began to dislike him for he seem to have too much gerenik colors to his speeches rather just pushing straight to the point. Age and sentimental probably had clouded him. Najib, watch on this.
(9) All those issues, I believe was because LCDA-PHSB has no proper Corporate Planning Division. The definition of scope and function of the Corporate Planning Division seem clouded by the so called truly commercialized corporate entity whereby the investment planning was screen through the bias of the accountant point of view. The idea of Corporate Planning normally focuses on Acquisition, Merging, Takeover, and Disposal. Since LCDA-PHSB is a Government Linked Company (GLC), its role and function are larger and much complicated than the true Corporate entity. LCDA-PHSB has to bear in mind of its role to the society, the tail-end stakeholder, within the paradigm of a Developing Country. Developing country requires the GLCs to pay serious attention on developing the economic fundamental for the social wellbeing of the people. LCDA-PHSB must take along the need of business growth within the push for economic growth. Nonetheless, as a GLC, it has to differ from the norms of the general Public Service System in rendering its duties and responsibilities. It has to make money.
(10) In this regard, I would say, LCDA-PHSB must tag along with the State development policies and issues in all its endeavors. The LCDA-PHSB strategic business framework must really run parallel to the State macro and sectoral policies direction. This is where actually, what was and still missing in most of the State GLCs. That the reason why the CM complained:”I have difficulty to get people who really know how to translate my development policies into Action Plan”. To train and develop such a creature is not easy and surely time consuming. Thus, in LCDA-PHSB, I then formed the Corporate Planning Division with Hasmawati Sepawi, (and now Saiful Bahari and his gang) to lead, despite her initial resentment. To me, any activities without proper Planning exercise, would lead to many disasters. Accordingly, the good Planning Cycle Process would enable the Organization to have both Forward and Check Mate Analysis. I always believe in that, and I personally gave lots of attention to this Division to this day.
(11) As a guide to young readers probably, planning is not a difficult job. The toughest was to implant the interest over the matter. A planner is a thinker, a visualiser, a conceptualiser. A thinker is an observer, a listener, an analyser, a person with deep feeling, a soul searching person, and surely a great persistent presenter. To be one, one has to work hard to acquire those skill and interest. Watch Mahathir Mohammed, or even Taib Mahmud. They think, they visualise and they conceptualise on how to make life practically better. As compare to Nik Aziz Nik Mat, he also think, visualise and conceptualise for his people, but he took it too far, ie to heaven when in fact in the practical world life, his people are still in much miseries. I traveled, I read, I argued, I questioned, I felt and experienced, and spent lots of personal money to get all those skills. That how I do personal learning to be good in strategizing. Alhamdullilah, He presented me with murah rezeki and I used most of those to learn and help more.
(12) For the young Muslim, I see that many times, Allah had challenged us in the Al Quran: ...don't you think...there are 130 surahs that challenge the Muslim to think..., are all about we must have a clear planning paradigm in whatever we do. I hope, I pray, the Muslims could see all those Quranic Verses in a much diverse ways to be great.
XI: Phase II-Uniting the Family
In 2002, LCDA-PHSB was having about 38 subsidiaries with 31 were considered dormant. These were subsidiaries which mostly function to hold lands for the purpose of partnership. Multi-tiers companies are numerous. Despite their dormancy, the consolidation of the Companies would take lengthy process and thus costly. Nonetheless, keeping the Companies as they are would also giving rise to many management issues. The choice would than was nothing less than merging and disposal.
(2) The LCDA-PHSB staffs were very much lacking of experience in the merging and disposal process, thus, the best alternative would be to appoint a private consultants to undertake the job. When this was considered, I was shocked to see the quoted fees for the job. I felt hopeless, since, personally I was not that familiar with such an exercise. I really didn’t know what to do. Time was a real pressure on me. I was informed that the CM was not happy with my performance for not able to undertake immediate corporate exercise onto all these dormant and loosing subsidiaries. He want those to be done fast. I have to push my brain to work hard to get some wisdom. Recalling how I did all those consultancy services in SPU, I began to see that firstly I must know my end product, then all those processes to get to the product. Thank god, Allah is always with me, one day, after Office hour I sat down with Linda Wong on what should be done if these Companies to be wind up and thus the properties and business consolidated.
(3) She told me that what needed were all those financial and inventories figures which must be properly organized and thereon the accountant and the legal people would look for the feasibility of the merging and disposal of the Companies and related businesses. The very pertinent issues were wrt taxes either in the form of liabilities or possible allowances, and all other related liabilities, and legal cases. Basically, prior to winding up, the cleansing issues must be well addressed. All these information gathering and collation were within the control of the LCDA-PHSB staffs. The same applies to the related legal matters. All legal issues related to LCDA-PHSB problematic be addressed failing which, disposal will be very much hindered.
(4) With such, then I requested a working checklist be developed and decided to work on very minimal basis with the external consultants. I made our accountants and legal people to work on those. In this sense I managed to avoid paying full consultancy fees and thus giving my personnel greater accessibility to have a hand on experience on the exercise. I was thinking with such tedious works, the staffs would in the future be much cautious in simply establishing subsidiaries without having a proper business direction and plan. To me I just want them to learn the hard lesson and not to repeat the same mistake again and again.
(5) In fact to my surprise, the whole exercise was really simple. What need to be done was to openly discuss with the Officials from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for the approval of various tax exemption and those related issues. A letter and few minutes of face-to-face meeting were the only requirement. It was lucky then, that the MoF worked fast and provided us with all the approval needed. Thus, the consolidation of assets and businesses were done mostly by an in-house staffs. The only reason for the time consuming was due to the various statutory process that we have to undergo before the real assets and businesses transfer could be made, then followed by the winding up exercises. To date I believe I would say Hasbie Suhaili, Kamri Ramlee and Bibi Umaizah are good in the exercises. Once I was criticized by one of my bloq follower for not giving chance to the private sector to do such job for LCDA-PHSB. My simple belief in this was, should I waste our resources spending on non-productive growth?. Though Mustapha Muhammed, the MITI, had said this, but seem to be ignored by Najib in his 2012 Budget, I strongly believe in what he suggested. Economic and commercial consideration sometimes doesn’t match.
(6) To speed up all the Board approval, I took over most of the Chairmanship of most of the Companies, and kept the BOD membership to the minimal. With such I consolidate all the authority into my hand. To some my move was seen as greedy, but my contention is clear, I just want to move fast to clean up all the works. Nothing great about holding or even earning from a Companies that didn't contribute to the overall business growth of the Organization. I need to turn most if not all of LCDA-PHSB subsidiaries and investment companies to grow. As such, I need all the authority to be within my control. Hilter can’t make the German to war, if he was not in control!. The same with Napolean, Ho Chii Minh, Julius Ceaser. Iraq, Libya, Eqypt, Syria, and many others collapsed once the head was no more in control.
(8) What it really meant here was that, we must be honest to learn from anybody and thus to work with everybody to get our job done. We should also not to bother too much of others feeling or opinion when we have to be a bad guy. In a war, we shoot or we die!
XII: Phase III- Walking the Plantation Sector
As earlier mentioned, LCDA had been trusted to spearhead the sago industry development since the 1987. A deep peat area size about 17,000 hectares in Dalat-Mukah was allocated to LCDA to start with the commercial sago plantation. The development approach to this Plantation, I would say was mere trial and error since there was no clear benchmark available. The true understanding of sago agronomic was also lacking. The drainage and infrastructure development were done on incremental basis. Soil treatment minimized believing that sago strives well in undisturbed land. Is this the truth?
(2) When I came in 2002, after visiting the Plantation, observing the wastage of effort and money involved, I instructed all plantation works to cease until a proper review being made. Accordingly, I instructed the Management Office be shifted from Kuching to Mukah and all the staffs to be transferred to the ground. Later, Site or Project offices and facilities were established at the Plantations, and thus the staffs need to be move down to sites. Remote management now turned to hand on field management system. The overall in charge person for the Plantation was changed and a real planter Edwin Lau, from SALCRA was recruited.
(3) In view of lacking of the concrete sago plantation development know how, I made a decision that the Oil Palm development model be adopted, initially taking the 50 percents, then the 75 percents and last 100 percents development level. The drainage, roading, planting, field and crop maintenance system were adjusted accordingly. Rehabilitation (or re-establishment) works restart in 2005 and some sign of improvement were observed. Nonetheless, in 2008-2009, there were symptoms of non-growth and browning effect began to occur. The suspicion was about manuring practices. Nonetheless, rectification on the matter didn’t give significant improvement. I was really frustrated with what was happening, despite so much dedication from the ground staffs, the result was real bad. In fact, later what I found out was, my instruction were diluted along the way. It is a blessing in deed, now the ground staffs knew what I mean by sago need better field establishment than oil palm when come to peat area. Again it seem I have to endure to cure. Three biggest mistakes or over sight that I have made: firstly, I didn’t pay attention to the drain outlets and field drains density, which is prime to enable for greater soil compaction and subsidence, secondly the soil compaction or preparation where I should have just be brave to implement the earlier thought of doing it equal or better than in the oil palm, and surely I have not been very firm and hard to use the various smallholders’ farms as my Control in fertilizer application model. Basically I have ignored my ecological observation on the natural and domesticated sago areas that I have seen in Papua, Papua New Guinea, Seram, Kendari, Lombok, Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, South Thailand, South Philippine, Sabah (Beaufort and Tenom) and the whole of Malaysia particularly in Peninsula Malaysia ie sago naturally love wet organic or alluvial soil. Botanically, deep peat is not a natural sago area. Thus establishing sago in this soil require serious soil treatment. In my 16 dec., 2011 latest field visit to the plantation, I have advice them to focus on establishing the 25 meters field drains, and to compact the land to be bellow the Plantation Main and Collection Road. The agronomic one meter rooting ground must be met. The road must be kept dry and the good establishment of cover crop macuna is the best indicator on the compaction quality. This had been proven in Mukah II as well as those in Siting Area of Sebakong.
(4) I was lucky in deed having helpful buddy in the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister Department in Putra Jaya, Hj Hassan Ismail who is the Director of the Agro-division. He sympathized to my plight to consolidate the sago smallholders into our Plantation development initiatives. My proposed Model was simple: initially take them as out grower, whereby all the development and maintenance be funded by the Government but manage by LCDA. With LCDA own Plantation, it then must establish an Integrated Processing Mill. Later, these people will be offer a better pricing if they sell their logs to LCDA owned mill. Thus, a so called ‘LCDA Sago Club’ will be established and all the participating smallholders will be the club members. With such, LCDA then will sign a long term agreement to fully manage all those consolidate farms, with farm net return be 100 percents given to the farmers. LCDA will benefit from good supplies of quality raw material and gain from the downstream effect of the industry LCDA basically must move to be the grand cartel of the sago industry.
(5) RM60.00 million was allocated for such purpose, and with such, we began to open up those areas within the fringe of our Plantation for the 2007-2010 period. Thereon, I managed to convince the Ministry of Plantation Industry and Commodity (MPI&C) to state sago as a new growth potential for the agriculture sector. I worked closely with the UKM group ie Dr. Madeline Berma, Prof Fawzi, et al who were assigned to look at sago, and to state as such in the National Agriculture Policy (NAP). With such fund, we managed to open up about 3,000 hectares of Consolidated Smallholders Satellite Estate in Dalat, Balingian nad Pusa. In 2011-2015, we got an additional RM55.00 million for the same purpose. We are targeting to have about 5,000 hectares of real good smallholders satellite estate by 2015. In view of the potential needs for high yielding planting materials, I manage to convince EPU to provide RM7.00 million for the setting up of the commercial scale Tissue Culture Laboratory in CRAUN. This Laboratory was intended not only to produce quality high yielding sago planting materials, but to move into production of oil palm seeds and clonal material as well as taking LCDA to be a major banana producer. I tried to see the longing interest and thinking of Taib’s Mahmud in those areas and I made some fundamental action to pave the way.
(6) The smallholders areas are mostly shallow peat and alluvial soil. These areas are wet, but well drained. The sago growth performance on a 90 hectare area called Senau, which is shallow peat with sandy substratum, really changed my perspective in sago plantation development. Despite earlier objection from many personalities in the way I want the Smallholders Program especially wrt the drainage density, infrastructure, land preparation, and planting density, I was stubborn enough to follow my gut. The same results could now be seen in Balingian and Pusa. The development of the fringe smallholders land also facilitated for our Plantation water management needs. With help from Allah and the staffs dedication, the result was really different from what we have at our Plantation level. Beginning early 2011, I have revamped those protocols that being used by the Plantation in the re-establishment work. I pray, I hope, this last discovery will succeed. I hope by 20013, the whole of our 17,000 hectares Plantation area will be established with proper drainage, soil treatment and infrastructure development. By 2013, our Sago Integrated Plant in Dalat should be commissioned and thus by 2015, the Sago Plantation would start to generate profit. I had conceptualize that this will be an Integrated Sago Processing Plant where the flour will be immediately converted to Modified Starch while the waste will be turned into Ethanol, Feed Stock and Organic Fertilizer. All these in fact is nothing new. Somebody in Kuantan, Klang and Sentul had these running well. I had conceptualized Dalat to be the Sagopolis and hopefully this could be realized.
(7) In the oil palm development, I used to visit all those plantations and really worked as Visiting Agent (VA) or Plantation Controller. I was lucky to have an old friend when I was studying in Kelantan by the name of Ahmad Zaki Abd Kadir who is now a senior VA in Sime Darby. He had given me some clues on how to really monitor and evaluate the wellbeing of a plantation. My short association with Tan Sri Lee of IOI, had also given me lots of advantages. The writing and discussion with peat experts such as Dr. Tayeb Dolmat (PORIM), Dr. Zain Zawawi (PORIM), Dr. Gurmit Sigh (UP), Yogeswaran, Dolrani (Geology), Dr. Tee, Dr. Jong, Kuek Hong Shiong, Lai Kui Fong, Ngap Dollah (DOA) and many others really help me a lot in figuring the best practices in oil palm development in peatland. These are the people that have worked with me during my young days in the SPU.
(8) As earlier mentioned, most of our oil palm investors were and are former timber operators as well as family-based management. Accordingly, since there was serious shortage of Plantation Skilled Manpower, hoping and pinching of workers becoming critical issue that contributed to poor management in some of the plantation. There are investors that entered into partnership for mere speculation. In these regard, there are instances that I have to make a very unpopular stance that they need to depart and thus negotiated a takeover by a much genuine partners. About 12 JVCs were involved in such exercise. In some instances, the takeover faced with lots of difficulties due to mainly greed, and almost drowning me in the hot soup.
(9) There are times that I really screwed and shouted at those managers that managing the plantations not to the standard that I knew. My in charged executives would also get similar drilled from me. I even go to the extend to get the investors to fire those incapable managers. FELDA, IOI, UP, and Sime Darby plantations were my benchmarks. I really look at the yields as against crop age and as well the per unit cost as my controlling figures. The yield would signify the maintenance level, while the unit cost would indicates the quality of works. OER and DOBI are others indicators that need to be watched as the palm getting matured and process at own mills. Any deviation from the average norms would attract me to dig into greater details. I really appreciate my botanical and economic affinity as tools that had equipped me with such skills.
(10) The 2010 good oil palm price and as well as the pressing State and National political scenario really had put stressed on LCDA. NCR claims, and as well as land disputes among the NCR landowners really had turned Sarawak into the land of the outlaw. FFB theft, blockage, intimidation, etc became out of control and worst in the mid of the 2010 State General Election, LCDA was smashed with numerous High Court decision that sided on the claimants. I really had sleepless night during those two months pre-election period.
(11) NCR development is really a social re-engineering process. Leaving the development through SALCRA and FELCRA would slow the speed of development. The CM had devised a Model whereby, LCDA-PHSB acting as trustee to the landowners, and thus enter into JV with capable investors to develop those land on commercial basis. Private funding is the main instrument for this Model, thus diversifying source of fund to infuse greater development out reach to the State vast and dispersed settlements in the rural hinterland. Nonetheless, it is very hard to satisfy everybody wants, when such wants arise due to, especially political and greed manipulation. The people original needs such as land security, infrastructure access and some cash income earning opportunities had now changed into greater wants which most of the times doesn't match with the commercial norms. Now the people want quick income. In business, Income is considered not real, as long as profit not met. Thus, in managing the interest of the investors and the landowners, LCDA-PHSB had always been caught in a frustrating cross fires. Nonetheless, with passion we managed to made some head ways. I believe one day, the NCR landowners would appreciate the long term outlook of Taib. No doubt there are weaknesses in the approach, but one must start somewhere to get thing perfected. Even Allah created this world in phases, and Islam transcended in a very progressive manner, let then understand that in understanding Taib’s move. None of us is God, but at least we must have respect with those who follows the footstep of God in making human lives better and prosper.
(12) While working hard to get the NCR and large stateland areas to be developed for the plantation, we noticed the possible development gaps between the hinterland and coastal communities. The coastal communities mostly the Malays, Kedayan and Melanaus, they were fishermen or loggers. They hardly have much land. Thus when the NCR program was started and`gaining good momentum, these coastal people began to feel being left or sideline. Noises were heard all over the places. Again, with the help of Allah, wisdom came to both myself and Baijuri Kipli, Datu, the late Director of Land and Survey to look at the possibility to consolidate those individual alienated land into a larger plantation development. Today the idea had evolved into the so called Ladang Rakyat, which is basically LCDA-PHSB acting as trustee and developer to community-based landownership. The lands are stateland, and the ownership normally equally divided among the target population. Land premium and quit rent had to be paid, different from the NCR where all those are exempted. Accordingly, the tenureship for Ladang Rakyat is limited to 60 years while the NCR is in perpetuity.
(13) Since I came in, the plantation development in the Stateland had not been running smooth. The so called Stateland status had always been challenged by the surrounding communities as theirs and thus, creating lots of disputes with the investors. I was worried at one stage when I asked the CM to award LCDA-PHSB more Stateland, and his reply was simple and though:"I have given you enough, and you have not developed all that you have". That was true. We took his challenged. We managed to engage the investors to be real serious. We resolved lots of land disputes issues creatively without compromising on the policy matters.
(14) What I did on how to soften people claims on Stateland was rather unacceptable initially. But I deployed a simple logic argument: Firstly, if the home is mine, don't I have the privilege to allow anybody friendly to be my guest? I might lost some space, but at least I have accompany to be friend with. Secondly, if we are hard headed to gain 100 percents, and yet we are loosing, then what wrong loosing some but gain some? Why can't we just share, to gain a little bit less, but still we gain rather wanting all, we get none? It was`not easy to sell the idea, but Allah knew our intent, He blessed such a strategy and now, I would say, we are moving fast to share. Nonetheless, again, the issues of greed and dishonesty always clouded one's mind when come to money. Among the Muslim, I just remind them, while we are mad with people stealing our belonging, then we must also abide to the fact that stealing others right is also not correct:tidak berkat. That how I deal with those in Beladin, in particular. With the non-Muslim, I normally deal on case-to-case basis. My attitude is real simple, as long as I can developed the land, I don’t mind to compromise. I must get what I needs, then I have no problem to accommodate what others wants or needs.
(15) Today, I would say LCDA-PHSB is the largest oil palm plantation owner in the State. To-date there are now 65 JVCs in the sector. I can foresee, this year end, LCDA-PHSB would gain at least RM30.00 million net dividend from these investment, with the figure growing to RM50.00 million by next year. I’m very confident that by 2015 LCDA-PHSB would gain at least RM100.00 million dividend earning from the oil palm investments. In short,LCDA-PHSB is going to be a major player in generating income for the State, people and surely for itself. My notion all these while that it is always rewarding if we focus to serve the State first. My dad and grandma advices are always my guiding principle: Tidak sia-sia jika kita berbakti pada tanah, kalau kita tidak dapat, pasti ada ganjaran pahala bila segalanya turut dinikmati para burung dan binatang. In this sense, I translated their tanah as Tanahair, the State.
XIII:Phase III-Infusing Changes in the Properties Development
In acquiring Stateland for properties development, LCDA has the privilege being given a discount to 75 percents in the commercial land premium values. Accordingly, all these Stateland are normally prime except encumbered with lots of issues such as squatters, sites of existing institutions, technically though to develop and all sorts.
(2) In most case, the initial development planning of these lands were left to the feasibility thinking of the developers. The planning inputs were geared mostly toward maximum return. The issue of business sustainability was of minor if no concern. The first Project that I implemented was the Mukah Boulevard. I persuaded hard the developer to give some characters to the Project. He did. His effort was compensated when the Project sale like hot goreng pisang. The same developer later, was interested to redevelop the Youth Training Center land at Pending. The Project named as I-COM Square. Here I insisted on promoting business sustainability, thus parking space and convenience, pedestrianization, linkages, building characters and landscape become my concern areas. Later, the replanning of the Old Prison site took place and I was glad that the developer was towing with my ideas of making the place as a happening place. I could see, much Arabian tourist flooding Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore, but too few really know or interested to land in Kuching. With the existence of Swin Burne University, I believe, in the long run the birds would love to return to their migrating place. I visualized the place would be popular among the Arab and young executives.
(4) Later I have the chance to plan for the Pasir Panjang Tourism area. I tried to simulate the area taking into recognition of the good planning and development characteristic of Vail, Spring, Golden, and Boulder in Colorado, USA. The Plan was approved, but unfortunate due to delay in land matters as well as some hickup with the investor, now LCDA-PHSB need to clean up the Project fast. Chinese, Arab and Japanese investors are interested to venture into the area. The Phase I of the Project which carries a theme of Family Park, I hope could be completed by end of the year. Personally, I missed lots of family life, thus, I would love to fulfill my empty emotion with a gift to Families in Kuching. I hope whoever after me, really keep Pasir Panjang Family Park as a true family outing place especially among the lower income group to really de-stress themselves from all those boxes that they currently nesting in. That was what I mentioned to the CM during our helicopter flight over the area somewhere in 2007: The Population in Kuching lacking public place, especially among the families.
(5) The developer for Sri Aman Square recently was very popular for his square and straight line mode of development. I managed to convince him to take a different approach in his development. Now, I'm happy soon to see that a small town as Sri Aman will have its own characters. I requested him to play with the building height, facade and even as much as possible the pedestrian connectivity. He adopted the suggestion, and the Phase I of the Project was sold during the launching. He now is gearing for Phase II and III.
(6) The approved Serian New township would have similar effect. I hoped the approved developer will work hard to really bring Perth if not Denver to Sarawak, rather Sarawakian working hard to make money yet spent those faraway and later coming back to make more money and dirty our own backyard. I hope they understand the term NIMBY. Our properties and urban development mentalities must change. In whatever we do, let infuse the spirit, roh into it. We may love Red Indian, Korean and Japanese movies, but we seem to fail to observe there are lots of spirit in those movies. We see, we hear, we touch, but we seldom think and absorb!
(7) I have tried to penetrate Kapit. The current Kapit development I would considered still very capitalist and short term horizon concept. The redevelopment of the old R&DO site, I hope will give the different perspective of Kapit. My concern was not only about sustaining the business, but most important is the sense of pride. We must give the local the sense of place.
(8) I have written in my earlier entries, that many Sarawakians, when we met them in Kuala Lumpur, when asked:"Where are you from?". Most would answer from Kuching. Go into further probing, we would be wondering, why are they not willing to answer straight for instance, I come from Kg. Terasi, Pendam ie 70 KM from Kuching. To me, all is about, we don't really have Sense of Pride. What is there, for instance that we should be proud of say in Kg. Terasi, Pendam? That the reason, why Mahathir Mohammed, despite huge resentment, he started with Daya Bumi Building (and specially name such building as Daya Bumi), then add in the Highways, Proton, Penang Bridge, KL Tower, the KLIA, Sepang F1, and of course the KL Twin Tower. Prior to such a development, the foreigner would always asked: Where is Malaysia?. Today almost all Malaysian has sense of pride of the Nation. Malaysians with pride claim they are Malaysians. I believe the same with Sarawakian after the new State Legislative Building was completed.
(9) After all these break through in Projects planning per se, later I tried to go into developing the Township Master Plan for smaller township. My planning paradigm is not purely about making money for LCDA-PHSB. I have a dream of seeing all these small townships especially those in the rural areas would form the Economic Crystal, the Daya Bumi, for the natives to have equitable share in the service sector. As an experiment, the way we did for Telaga Air in Kuching was a bit daring. Such a place, not many would have the confident to invest huge fund, worst dare to develop facilities as we had done: nice ample space stalls, Fishing Piaza with mooring dolphin facility, simple and nice landscape Waterfront, ample car park area, strategically located public toilet, nice and prominent public library, and friendly fishermen jetty. Today, I would say, Telaga Air is sort of a must weekend place among the Kaki Pancing. I believe if the second Phase of the Project be implemented, surely, the area would be the best complement to Pasir Panjang.
(10) I have work out something for Kabong, Pusa, Beladin, Tambirat, Daro, and Tedungan. I wish the Plan for Asajaya could be realized. I'm glad my view for the Simunjan New Township development is well accepted. I hope to see these towns to spur greater pride in this rural setting. I can't accomplish to have something for Igan, and Semalatong as another experiment on how to really strengthen our Rural Economic Development (RED) model that I used to say. Conceptually, I have relay my view on how Sekuau, one of the four RASCOM areas to be developed. I hope the matter will be taken care soonest to enable a different form of RED could be initiated all over the State.
(11) I have tried to shift LCDA-PHSB properties development paradigm to pay greater attention to Rural Urbanization. My idea about the Igan, Semalatong and Sekuau was similar to the Station setup especially among the American Red Indian. Such is a place of meeting, servicing and trading. To me, all these concepts are manifestation of my belief that: greater urban wealth is with the presence of healthy smaller satellites at the circumference, the bee hive urbanization concept. Thus, at my personal level, the Model is now, I'm working hard to implement it in my own Village, Terasi. I hope, my success in the Village will inspire village-based entrepreneurship development among the Bumis, if they are properly facilitate and guided. I discovered, K-mart, began it business in the rural areas. It is now among the main store in the retail industry in America.
(12) The other emerging areas that of my major concern was, the idea of developing the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC). This area seem not been given due attention. LCDA-PHSB had been classified as the non-BCIC development entity. The task had been assigned to others. Thus, LCDA-PHSB role was to facilitate for urban development and renewal or even infill, and whatever gain will be immediately plough back into other investments. I see this strategy as disadvantaging to the natives. LCDA-PHSB is considered among the most active State GLC in properties development and yet, not able to facilitate the Bumis to gain greater advantage in setting up their businesses. I could see, as more Bumis are urbanized, their future falls onto their serious participation in the much urbanized sector. Thus, they must be seriously facilitated to gain access to the services sector. The balancing act must now be seriously thought.
(13) In fact I have blinded the BOD by holding and even buy back some strategic properties and thus developed them into outlets that could be taken up by the Bumis. I simply told the BOD that, we must hold the properties and as much as possible to take more in kind returns and` hold such properties to a period, when the price is much better, we could sell them later. My hidden plan was in fact to renovate and equiped all those facilities and thus rent them out to bumis to start their business. Accordingly, the rental return from all these properties would help to give LCDA-PHSB immediate revenue to sustain its operation and injecting into other investment. Todate, LCDA-PHSB earned at least about RM30.00-40.00 million per annum on rental return.
(14) Thus, I began with those 16 units of shophouses in Desa Ilmu, Samarahan. Initially I was criticized as wasting LCDA-PHSB money, buying and then turning the place into such extravagant facilities: Mini Market, Student Business Center, Spa, Restaurant, Cold Storage, Laundry and Hostel. The concept mimic what I believe as the Arabian Bazaar. Thus I called this Project as MyBazaaRia. It was a real struggle in fact and lots of the staffs fall victims to the idea. Monalisa, Abidah, Rafidah and some others left due to their inability to coup with the pressuring ideas and work demand. Anywhere, they have tried, but I have to let them leave, for I believe in training young puppies all the tricks. Thanks god, today four groups of Bumis entrepreneurs had benefited from the plan. I do hope and pray, these guys really honor their rezeki and hope they would also later help to build more bumis entrepreneurs. If not at least, they should inspire the bumi to be serious to take up Muhammad SAW advice that 90 percents of the worldly rezeki comes from business.
(15) I have a strong belief that Desa Ilmu Model would work well with the implementation of the Integrated Students Facility that had been approved. I hope, such development would open up the mind of the Federal and State Government on how, private participation is important in building a University Cities. To me Desa Ilmu had ignored the necessity of a University Township. As I see them today, all are driven by public and thus cost-efficiency are lacking. On the other hand, the private sector development in the area, is purely after the money, not really students and nation character building. We are creating a messy students' characters. I'm scared if LCDA-PHSB doesn't make a move to rectify this, I would say we have a stake in corrupting our future generation.
(16) The same idea had now being implemented in Beladin, where the Persatuan Nelayan had been honored to takeover the MyBazaaRia operation. At least they can proof their long floating dream. The colorful Samudra Small Hotel is running well despite even the CM earlier reluctant to give the approval of the Project. The same in Merapok, Lawas. We definitely is struggling in Medan PELITA, the most colorful building in Kuching. InsyaAllah, I believe, the latest addition of the Kek Lapis Incubator that we started there will crystalizing better. Nonetheless, time will come, that the place will be a great place, except I'm too stubborn to hold it for the Bumis. I have, to hold to that spirit, because I know the Bumis: Tidak pernah menyesal dulu, melainkan menangis setelah sesuatu kematian!. I don't mind to endure to cure. Wisma Satok, at least had been remodeled. I believe many began to see, all those small steps that I had made. I hope those that I left will continue with the spirit and readiness to take the greater challenges.
(17) The Pasir Panjang, the New Army Camp, Sarikei and Samariang five units shophouses would come under the same concept. I really hope what had been planned as clustering and agglomeration strategy for the area will be implemented well. I’m praying that people still remember Mahathir remark: I don’t mind Pak Lah to do whatever he want to do, but he must also give balance treatment to what had been planned. He has the freedom to add on. I believe Mahathir statement is in line what Mustapha Mohammed had said: Malaysia must go for Productive Growth. My attitude in LCDA-PHSB is always along the same principle.
(18) All these ideas in fact was part of my preparation for LCDA-PHSB to take up a greater complicated task especially to implement those Project such as Darul Hana in Kuching, Kg. Datu Redevelopment in Sibu, Kg Masjid Redevelopment in Bintulu, and Jalan Hj Taha Redevelopment. Accordingly, experiences in setting up the MybazaaRia and Pasir Panjang Family Park concept would enable them to be good in the detail planning of the Putra Mall and Jln Haji Taha Mall in the near future. To me, I have to see far a head, and had` to prepare our people for the battle. My travelling either on official or on my own all over the places gave me all the ideas on how thing should be developed.
(19) With regard to Darul Hana ((Kuching), Kg. Datu (Sibu), and Kg Masjid-Datu (Bintulu) I have a collective ideas from my personal search in Kelantan, Malacca, Trengganu, Kedah, Pattani, Vientien, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Phnom Pehn. Definitely Perth (Australia), Boulder and Golden (Colorado), and those cities in Indonesia that I have visited were also my guiding planning features. I visualized these Projects would give Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu Malays the Sense of Place where the elements of Spiritual, Community and Living are in harmoniously place in total context. Consistent critique from Taib, the CM, really had challenged me to come up with a good development concept for the areas. In Islam, I would love to see the true physical development of an Islamic Adeen could be realized. I want to craft, what I termed as the Islamic Body of the development that we need. I hope to see a Malay Sense of Place as the key attraction for people to spend their quality family times in Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu. With such, I then just want to give the Roh to the Malays especially in Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu where they seem to be hard pressed being marginalized. I hope to realize my idea of crafting a Soul-based Body development of these areas. I will write a separate article on this. I need to study the early development of Madina, Mecca, Alhamra, the Hanging Garden of Baghdad, and those modern cities of the world to arrive at my total idea.
(20) In this regard, my next dream is to contribute to the idea of making Kg Baru Kuala Lumpur the Global Islamic Financial, Commercial, Learning and Community City or in short the Islamic City, Ideal City, I-City. I believe with such, the Malays will then be a Citizen of the Globe, a Model of an Islamic Society. Having the Islamic body and soul in one. With such ambition, I want to live for another 71 years. I’m just 41 percents of my life dream. I want to spend another eight percents of the next life span to build my soul and body thinking into an Urban and Neighborhood development philosophy.
XIV:Phase IV: Expanding the Facilities Management
As development demand in Kuching is pressing hard over parking space, then in 1990s LCDA need to embark on multi-storey car parks complex. That gave the birth of Saujana and Medan PELITA. The idea then spread to cover Kapit and Sentosa car parks complexes. Later the properties ownership spread into commercial and office complex such as Wisma Satok, hotels (Rajah Court nad many others), Wisma PELITA Miri, Pan View Limbang, and of course numerous of shophouses. Apartments and condominiums also come into the inventories. In the last nine years, we had expanded to cover much more shophouses, quarters and govern office. With all these, facilities management becoming LCDA-PHSB second biggest responsibility. In fact, over the last six years, LCDA-PHSB had survived well through rental gain of all its properties.
(2) My visit to Singapore in 2008, seeing their facilities management system, especially in the way the Singapore Government ability to provide and thus to manage excellent public housing program had slowly inspired me to possibly looking into the same system in the State.
(3) With the development of Darul Hana, Kg. Datu, Sibu and even Kg. Masjid, Bintulu, I could see such a role is a must for LCDA-PHSB to acquire. Soon our land value is neck killing, thus our young new generation may can't afford to own a home. This matter had to be addressed soonest or we may be facing a great social stress especially among the lower middle income group. The 1Malaysia Home idea must be immediately expanded and facilitated. LCDA-PHSB must play a big role in this.
(4) I hope, with the course attended by 15 of LCDA-PHSB staffs related in Urban Planning and Properties Development and Management at the Nanyang Institute of Technology on last November, 2011 would gave them lots of confident and having dare steps in looking into a better neighborhood plan and management in the future.
XX: Phase IV: Business Expansion and Public Listing
While business expansion is moving incrementally in the LCDA-PHSB business horizon, time have come for the Organization to further evolve into a greater GLC positioning. In this regard, during the last LCDA BOD Meeting, certain ideas had been mooted.
(2) Firstly, I have pointed out, the State Oil Palm Industry need local umbrella. In Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah, the presence of FELDA, IOI and Sime Darby is well felt. In Sarawak, the major players are still at the minor stage. SOP, RH, WTK, TaAN, SinYang, KTS (Borneo Lumber), and Samling hardly had passed the threshold of 100,000 hectares plantation holding. Agencies such as FELDA, Sime Darby and IOI, are considered as small players. Thus, I could see, there is a serious need for Sarawak to have few Umbrella Players to enable us to really becoming significant in the Oleo Industry. I could see SOP and TaAN, should make a quick move.
(3) Secondly, the fact that the State population is small, about 2.40 million against a State size 12,440 sq kilometer which is about 95 percents of Peninsula Malaysia with a population of about 20.00 million, must be well understood. Thus, going big in Sarawak for properties development would meant a real Zero Sum Game. Lately, I have convinced SOP where PHSB had a 28 percent stake to venture into properties development. Their cash reserves should be reinvested for greater growth and ROI. A special vehicle was formed. And, together with the others PHSB associates in properties development, I would believe they could work together and venture outside Sarawak. I had made some initial moves in this. My idea was for Sarawakians to outgrow both internal and externally, and most important to hinder the zero sum game that might happen due to limited absorption capacity locally.
XXI: Most Memorable Tasks
I have few good experiences which to my belief that would be great especially to share with the younger and aspiring executives and officers of the State Civil Service. I hope these small hick-up that I faced would give some ideas for them to deal with if such situation arise.
(2) Firstly, on my first field trip to Sibu region, I was informed of an abandoned NCR Planttation Project in Meruan, Selangau. Due to the 1997 financial crisis, the investor gone into bankrupt and the Project was placed under recieviership with Dana Harta. The BOD and CM had never been brief on this Project. My gut feeling at that time was, this could lead to great land matter disaster if the matter couldn't be resolved fast. Thus I briefed the CM, and surely he was upset and instructed me to quickly salvage the Project. Looking into LCDA-PHSB coffer at that time, I was real nervous. That was a real first though test case for me. Firstly I never have the experience in handling bankruptcy, secondly, the Project had been delayed, thus the people deserved clear explanation, while the ground political climate was not favoring, and thirdly, the way forward after the takeover was blur. Despite was placed under bankruptcy, the developer still want to make his presence especially to protect his investment.
(3) God is always with me. I got the idea, that it must be a piggy-back salvage operation. Firstly LCDA by hock or crook need to buyover, then quickly hand over the Project to a much capable investor. A young gentleman Tiong Chiong Hii from the RH group was hanging around looking for possible partnership with PHSB. Personally he looks honest. Young, soft, religious and educated. After doing quick analysis of his Company capability, I just then signed off the Project into his care. Within three years after taking over, the Project becoming good and now completed. His Company later was given to develop another three more parcels of land nearby. Nonetheless, unfortunately, on the eve of the last State election, a blockage was organized, stealing of fruits were spreading. The enforcement of law and order was
(3) Immediately after the election fever had cool down, we worked on the legal strategy. Again thank god, He is always around and we now managed to take back the Plantation with certain adjustment to the Terms and Condition of the Agreement. Now, the Plantation had agreed to pay RM720.00/ha/yr until true dividend` is realized. This is another effect of Tabung Haji Model effect that began to be adopted by others. I hope the Project case would open everybody mind that the present system need to be seriously review and all parties must be honest to their true right and responsibilities.
(4) Secondly Since serving the SPU I have been concern about the slow performance of FELCRA in the Consolidation and Rehabilitation of idle private alienated land statewide. The reason, mostly because the slow or lukewarm respond of the target population. Their development becoming very uneconomic thus Return to Investment (ROI) was not attractive. In Daro, in particular, I was a bit concern. The region is a bit isolated. Poverty was considered the key issues. All because the population have disadvantage position to advance in their economic course. Poor infrastructure. Marginal soil. Dissected by numerous rivers.
(5) There was a 4,000 hectares piece of Stateland given to LCDA in Daro, strethching from Matu to Daro. To me, ideally this piece is vital to induce greater economic development of the area. Many private sectors were interested with the land. My idea, this land must be developed along with the interest to develop all the surrounding idle people’s land. My concern was the economic wellbeing of the people. As usual, I provided the Board with the commercial and economic analysis of the choice of the investors. My weight was placed on FELCRA. The Project was approved to them. To my surprise, one of the contending investor was not happy with my recommendation and thus written letters addressed to so many people accusing me being bias and corrupted. The content of the letter was very damaging in fact. But, since I have so many other immediate pressing issues to address, I just kept the wind blown the matter to wherever it may land. His attacked didn't stop at the Plantation. It went into many other things. To me I can't dance to the interest of a few while neglecting the interest of the surrounding communities. I tried hard to stand for the communities.
(6) While developing the Project, we had to face lots of resentment from the local. Unfortunately, the claims were not genuine, and thus we had to maneuver hard to get to the maximum size. There are claims even made by the non-native, but camouflaging with the natives. In this case, we had to take the matter to court and it became a very tedious process. Nonetheless, through many systems, we later manage to deal with these some gangsterism characters.
(7) In fact to this day, the FELCRA Jemoreng Project was still not to my satisfaction. Despite the Project is very economical in size, the poor and intrique management of the Project had placed the Project to the Kampung Standard. Forward planning and Action Plan very much lacking. Many times I raised such issues to FELCRA, it seem they are not able to be truly professional.
(8) To this day, I yet to see FELCRA oil palm estate projects really achieved their full potential. As the projects are funded by the government, I would say the element of leisure faire management seem to be rampant. The management of the Projects is rather remote and yo yo. Decision mostly made in Kuala Lumpur. Contractual award and management seem not to the advantage of the participants. Multiple layering of contract award is the main issue. Cost-effectiveness is the key problem. I was and am very concern on this, because FELCRA and PELITA are supposed to give optimum ROI to the people since the fund used to finance the Projects are purely public with low interest rate and some subsidies. I tried to tighten on this at the Ladang Rakyat and Ladang Sejahtera level, but the resistance is really tiring. In this aspect, I believe I failed to serve my duty to provide the optimum ROI to the target group.
(9) My worry on FELCRA-PHSB related development in fact mounting when lately, FELCRA seem to have difficulty to secure much fund for its development. I have the belief that the EPU is not happy with the performance of FELCRA nation-wide in really giving benefit to the participants. Thus, I have been very tight when come to the development of Ladang Rakyat and Ladang Sejahtera. In both case, I really was very stubborn to ensure that PHSB interest as landholding trustee to be well protected and the ROI to the people are well defined and optimized.
(10) Thirdly, LCDA sand operation matter was initially not in the proper controlled of LCDA despite the agency is the sole shareholders of all the entities holding the operation license. In Sibu region in particular, the tonnage and price calculation were very much lenient than other regions. Despite such a privilege yet stealing and poor payment were observed. Dumping of sand to other regions becoming unacceptable and unfair to many. When the Board appointed me as the Acting Managing Director (AMD), I began to put my grip on the whole operation. Definitely, I have to fight hard from the internal resistance, since the traditionally loose control approach had created some gain to certain groups.
(11) Externally, when I standardized all the procedure, numerous accusations were smashed on me. The Sibu sand operation went into mogok. Political intervention began to come in. Sabotage and coercion among my enforcement staffs built up. Some resigned because of fear. Some threats were posted to me. But I was lucky to be able to read their game. The mogok happened in the monsoon season. It was also close to the Chinese New Year. To me whether they mogok or not, definitely there won’t be any extraction. Thus it made no different. I later made face-to-face meeting with those operators in Sibu. The matter was resolved despite the initial rumor that I might have to face gangsterism issues. To me, the very spirit of the matter was, I just tell them I’m just doing my job, and if not, I will lost my job, my rice pot will be turned upside down, and is it fair? While you guys can eat great food, I can’t. Will that be fair?Let me just do my work and you guys observed the rules.
(12) My understanding of mafiaism is just that. We must dare to face their god fathers. We must be very frank of the issue that we face. We just have to be clean. I clean up those staffs which I believe were dishonest. I faced them with no fear no favor. I put my grip fast and hard.
(13) This sand extraction matter will continue to be a very nosy issue to LCDA-PHSB. Either the operators will not be happy or the consumers will hit along. Currently with some political spice sand extraction would becoming costly. Thus, either way, LCDA-PHSB needs to take those as challenge to move on.
(14) Fourth, due to poor management of our Rinwood PELITA Tinjar Stateland plantation, I initiated the Rinwood share takeover by IOI. My meeting with Tan Sri Lee of IOI was very accidental. I was on the normal field visit to our Sg. Setiam Estate, in Bintulu, and was invited to have dinner together with the chairman of Bank Pertanian ie Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud. Bank Pertanian financed the Project. Since I have known him when I was serving the R&DO Bintulu, thus I accepted the invitation. Tan Sri Lee was among the guest. I seated on his right. That was where I whispered to him whether IOI would want to invest in Sarawak.
(15) He was very excited and asked me if I could help him to takeover Rinwood share in Rinwood PELITA Tinjar Project. In fact, much earlier, the BOD had given me the mandate to talk to anybody for the sale at certain condition and price. Tan Sri Lee agreed to all those, except I don't want to negotiate on the price and left it for IOI to talk direct to Rinwood. The matter was later pursued among them, and certain agreement was reached. I kept myself distance from all those since PHSB will remain as partner to IOI. I love to have partnership with IOI to learn their best practices. Nonetheless, as the S&P was to be signed, I got a call, to hold on the ceremony. The event was so close to happen, and yet, I wonder why, the cancellation had to be made. But again to my surprise, Rinwood and IOI just proceed to sign despite I was still waiting for the further green light. Nonetheless the deal was legal since it purely involving Rinwood and IOI where consent from LCDA-PHSB had been properly secured.
(16) Unfortunate, to this day, the problem facing IOI PELITA Tinjar never end. In the mid of the last State election, the local natives moved to takeover the Project. Despite the High Court Judgment which in fact recognized the right of IOI PELITA Tinjar, the enforcement of the law was lacking. We had made relentless effort to resolve the claims and counter claims of the area among the local natives. Accordingly, the RSPO that supposes to give us advantage into the European and American market actually was the main reason that IOI have a very limited choice to maneuver. In Malay this is really: Harapkan pagar, pagar makan tuan. As to comply to the International Standard, now we are engaging an International Mediator from Australia to handle the case. I really feel sad to leave IOI PELITA Tinjar in such a mess. I really have to apologize to Tan Sri Lee and Datuk Foong of IOI for my failure in my duty to provide secure and confident investment climate in the State.
(17) I am and was honored to have some encounters with both Tan Sri Lee (as well as` the two Junior Lees) and Datuk Foong, where both of them had really inspired me on how a real corporate figure quality should be. Despite they were so rich, yet they still work hard and remain humble. Hard and humble. Tan Sri Lee never failed to have meal and ice cream with me every time I visited him in his office. He has been ever willing to tell me the beginning of his life journey even during his poor hard boy bocah cilik life to how he is able to be who he is to this day. From them also I have the insight ideas in managing Plantation related investments.
(18) Fifth the people expectation in one of the earliest NCR Project ie Boustead PELITA Kanowit was really unbearable. PELITA was and is really caught in dilemma to play the in between role with the investor and participants. We were facing a lost of confident court case by the participants, and at the same time, Boustead began to initiate their legal right protection over PELITA. Certain quarters of the participants blocked the Project and began harvesting on their own. Their grouses mounted for too long. Numerous efforts were previously made to curtail the matter, nonetheless, the true corporate procedure make things very winding and painful. This made PHSB really in the position of bagai telur di hujung tanduk. Nonetheless, I was lucky not to hurry in my deal with both parties. Now, both PHSB and Boustead are able to face the issue in a more consolidated manner and not hitting at each others as the earlier course of legal process. I again need to maneuver within my administration judgment and deviated from the pure legal process. My military instinct gave me that thought. Of course this was with resistance, and I was seen as not professional, but I believe, professionalism mean all stones must be unturned. But, as we sometimes turned the stones, be ready to be bitten by the scorpion!
(19) Boustead case had been used as the benchmark by most natives in their deal with the private sector driven NCR development. The case also had enable me to made various administrative modification to the Program which among others was to take care of the income issue especially during the interim period before proper dividend could be declared and as well to get to the economic of scale of the whole operation. Despite all those, Boustead had done their part, especially if one recalled the political climate and as well the whole system experience in handling the Project in 1996. In the 2010 State election, I kept full alert on this Project, and when Gramong Juna, Datuk, the incumbent, was among the earliest announced to be able to retained his seat, I later just went to sleep because I knew, the whole of BN DUN seats in all LCDA-PHSB related Project will be retained. My guess was later confirmed. My strategy in all State or National election, I used to forecast when would be the election year, thus, I would normally geared all my activities at least a year ahead of the election and really keep myself at the very low profile the moment the election date was officially declared.
(20)Sixth. In Gedong we had two almost completed Stateland development with Double Dynasty (DD). In view of good oil palm price, the investor ie DD was interested to divest and love to dispose his share. Initially, I introduced IOI for the takeover. My consideration was always for LCDA-PHSB to stay back, and the new partner must either be equal or better. I always looking for the long term gain, despite LCDA-PHSB have very tight financial position. Probably my Javanese blood kept me that way:"Hold to what we have, make them good, and really go for long term gain. My dad always advices me on that. Never sell land. Developed them by ourselves. Harvest the fruits later".
(21) The Due Diligent of the Project didn't go through well. IOI aborted the deal. But the developer later made another move ie by inviting Tabung Haji (TH) to come in. I was consulted, and gave TH the full assurance of my support. The takeover was smooth. Nonetheless, PHSB partnership with DD in properties development was reviewed due to numerous circumstances. But after sometimes TH took over, the Project was smashed with court case where almost the whole area was granted to the claiming natives. The Due Diligent didn't pick up the issue from the very beginning and thus placing the Management in strain. All these happening, seem to be in the mid of the last State election. Again I have to deployed my military guerilla warfare strategy, to quickly device a consolidate strategy and move both legal and administratively to defused the matter. Despite some resistance, I refused to step back from my idea. Now the matter has been well accepted and a true multi-prongs but well coordinated strategy was deployed. I would say the success of the Project is wrt to the courage and far sighted strategies that the Board had in place. I would love to put on record here that Rashidi Che Omar, Datuk had always being with me in dealing with all these though and brave strategies. I hope our footsteps are well observed in the future of similar issues.
(22) In fact, all those loopholes in the Gedong case now are well captured into our Plantation Investment Jointventure Agreement (JVA), which I would see, that in fact LCDA-PHSB, must always keep reviewing their JVA and DA in light of the morale and trick of the private-capitalist world. I learned from the way the Al Quran was revealed to Muhammad SAW. Incremental and re-enforcing. All our work has to be revisited until we are gone or die, which ever earlier.
(23) Seventh. When I drove to LCDA on the 14 Oct., 2002, my mind was busy looking for something that I want to hold on. I must have a dream, a vision. While taking the lift, Sime Darby crossed my mind. I dream to move LCDA along the Sime Darby footstep and hoping one day, LCDA would be the Sime Darby of Sarawak if not Borneo. In the word of Martin Luther King's, I have a dream and my dream is to make LCDA into the Sime Darby of Sarawak. That was among the first idea that I mooted to LCDA-PHSB staffs when I first have my executive talk with them.
(24) Unfortunately, when in 2010 Sime Darby was given the chance to invest in Sarawak, particularly in the NCR land development, despite they have got the high power node they still want to use runner to deal on the matter. Latter what happen was Sime Darby was conned to buy two RM2.00 companies with no asset and nothing at RM110.00 million (if not mistaken). To me such a huge Corporate body, headed by among the most talented Malays-Muslim, yet they became so greedy for their own few goods. Astafirullah. Some Malays, some Muslims, they were supposed to take good care of their society long term wellbeing, yet they are the one who really made the sh++t out of their position. I may sound mad, and I have the right to do so. My dream devastated.
(25) In fact my feeling over how the Project was initiated then handle was of too pure to be great. I have protest over the launching extravaganza. I protested over the Social Impact Assessment idealism. I have protested over the true corporate way of managing the Project. I kept advicing Sime Darby to keep align to our LCDA-PHSB ways in dealing with things: to be low profile, and be truely with the people the way they are. Many times I called for meetings with their official to emphasize on that. Two world, two culture, I then left them to their course. Until one day I was visited by MACC officials and was later need to have a three hours interview in Putra Jaya to see if personally I was involved in the empty companies buy over by Sime Darby.
(26) When the new CEO of Sime Darby, Datuk Bakke, paid me a visit, I just told him frankly and surely sound very rude:"Ini semua bukan apa Tok, Sime Darby dah besaq, dah tak boleh nak ditegoq, besag kepala, bukan nak cakap kasaq kat Datuklah, tapi itulah Sime Darby". I said my piece, and I knew he is a Kedahan, he could take it. Last Oct., when again I have breakfast with him, I pledged to help him to get the Project moving despite had been delayed for at least two years. I believe Datuk Bakke had a tough time not only to clean the elephant but to make it dance in full balance. But I keep my dream, to be Sime Darby deep in me, and may Allah be with me again, to realize such a dream sometime, somewhere in the future.
(27) I have my earlier critic over how the High Echelon in the GLC being compensated. Once I was driven in a sound proof Mercedes by one of the senior person in Sime Darby. It was really amazing. Much better than that of Tan Sri Lee's of IOI, despite he is much richer and more successful person than my good friend in Sime Darby. I wonder, what would happen to his car and life-style once he is no more wanted by Sime Darby. Will he not be worrying. Will not such worry affect his integrity. I hope, our majority sleeping Members of Parliament pick this up.
(28) Eighth, Tetangga Arkab PELITA Pantu NCR Project have not moving as intended. A takeover was initiated, and this time with a public listed Company from Penang. This is a much genuine group, and the Management is a much professional. Nonetheless, few months after the takeover, some of the participants began to steal the FFB. All was sparked by the political problem in the area, whereby a group of individuals counter claimed against area previously was confirmed and endorsed by the Tuai Rumah dan his JKKK. The group was supported by an opposition political party. The Kuching High Court, awarded the claim to the second later parties, and thus denied the one whom have properly participated in the Project.
(29) All this, again happened in the mid of the last State Election, and we need to back off for a while. Reports were made to the police, but to no avail. Other government system seem just leaving us alone. It was painful in fact, but luckily immediately after the election, together with the State Attorney General (SAG) Office we made a concerted effort to get the Order of Stay on the judgment and thus proceed for the matter to be re-look at the Court of Appeal. The Management made a firm stand to hold to the fort, and we managed to cool things down toward the end.
(30)Ninth. Batu Lintang NCR Project was the first NCR Project that I signed off immediately after I joined LCDA-PHSB. The approval of the Project was rather in a rushed. The actual capacity of the investor was not thoroughly analyzed. The Project progressed well in the first year, but the true color of the investor began to paint years later. At last, the Project was on halt. We have numerous meeting to get the Project moving, but it just like pulling the elephant by the tail. I asked the investor to back off, but many times he refused.
(31) I have no choice but to let him bleed. I withdrew our people from assisting him to expand, since even the one that had been developed was not properly maintained. All sort of excuses were made. Nonetheless, later he gave in, but the price he requested was too high. Since the new taking over Company was SOP where LCDA had a 28 percent interest in the Company, thus I objected the price and, based on a 1,000 hectares been developed but not properly maintained, I set that the most the price would be RM7.00 million. I demand for at cost takeover. The price later agreed was almost to the one I have set and now, SOP is making steady progress in developing the area.
(32)Tenth In the properties development, we have one Project to this day got stuck with the developer. It involved a housing for a government agency and as a return the developer was given some land consideration. Due to the 1997 financial crisis, the developer had some financial problem to complete the Project. Thus LCDA had to advance in order to get the Project moving. Unfortunately, he later refused to recognize the advanced and thus LCDA withheld his returned to the value that LCDA had advanced.
(33) I have initiated many discussions and tried to achieve lots of compromise with the developer, yet he was stubborn enough not to recognize LCDA leniency. He even never wanted to honor his promises. We then took the matter to the Court, but the Court ruled the case to be thrown out, thus, leaving both parties to settle the matter out of the court. The last time he visited me, I just asked simple question: "Are you willing to honor your word". Since too much excuse being given, I just show him off my opened door. I stand by LCDA right, since all the legal document proved such. Nonetheless, the developer wrote letters to whoever he wished, and words used was really damaging. To this day, I held the fortress fast. I don't care what spread in the market, what I knew is my responsibility. He made a last attempt to be good to me to resolve the matter, in the last few weeks of my tenureship, but my gut is clear, he must respect LCDA-PHSB. I need only that, nothing less nothing more.
(34) Eleventh, Agro-politant Bruit. Since I was a very young officer in SPU, I have been trying to bring significant development to Pulau Bruit, which is located off the coast of the Rajang River mouth. There are about 30 poor villages there. At the monsoon period, the area is cut off from the mainland due to rough sea. This is a peat soil area with a levy of 200-400 meters of alluvial soil. Salt water inundation is the key agricultural problem. I have been trying to bring those Programs such as Pembangunan Kampung Atas Air, Village Integrated Development Project, and Rural Growth Center to the area. But due to budget and logistic constraints, all those effort doesn't materialize well.
(35) About mid 2009, a briefing was organized by KKLW on the Agro-politant Development Concept to the CM. LCDA was not yet a party to the idea, but I was invited to attend as well. Unfortunately, when the Ministry displayed the list of names of the candidate areas, Pulau Bruit was not in the priority list. With such, I suspected something wrong would happen. True enough, the CM was really mad and queried what had happen to all those approval made by the Prime Minister (PM) on the matter sometimes ago. He sound in real frustrated. The replied by the Ministry official was that the matter had never been properly conveyed or followed up. Realizing that there had been a serious communication breakdown along the way, I quickly intervene to say that I'll immediately look into the matter. I promised to settle the land issue within two months period.
(36) About two month later, we got the first alienation of the remnant of Stateland in Bruit for the development of the Agro-politant. I could see, those areas are not economical to be done but we had work hard to push FELCRA to start up with the Project. Later we applied for a 7,000 hectares on the southern portion of Pulau Bruit, but again this land is very much subject to social encumbrances. God is always with me, when I pick up the phone talking to the RH Bruit Plantation GM, he relayed the problem that he is facing at the area close to Kampung Tekajong and Bruit. I then suggested for area trade off. I need at least extra 2,000 hectares of contiguous area on the Bruit Island and willing to give him 2,000 hectares elsewhere particularly the south portion of the newly alienated land. He then agreed to the idea, though some objected, but I have been stubborn to stick my head on the deal, and hopefully, the people of Bruit will gain great benefit from all these ordeal.
(37) Twelfth: Sarawak Fertilizer Plant. LCDA-PHSB involvement in the venture was considered at the very last minutes. Originally, Sime Darby was part of the deal, but since they are not interested due to changes of the Company policy, LCDA was invited to take up the 15 percent share. As usual, I requested for the Feasibility and Technical Report of the Plant, but to no avail, I got the satisfactory report. I began to suspect, thing might not be running well.
(38) True enough there were some design problems. The Occupation Permit (OP) of the Plant can’t be obtained due to some technical non-compliance. Later, marketing issues cropped up. Followed by raw material supplies problem. Then the Plant operation was put on halt. The Plant building and equipment began to deteriorate. The bank began to demand for payment. Shareholders were not able to bring in extra cash. The BOD later granted SALCRA to takeover the operation especially to manufactured their own fertilizer needs. Nonetheless, the operational issues still can’t be resolved smoothly. I made a move to propose to the BOD for LCDA-PHSB to takeover the operation. The BOD agreed to the idea.
(39) Together with Double Dynasty Sdn Bhd, we made some connection with the Wilson Group in Chenai, India. This Company has two fertilizer plants that are capable to produce 1,500,000 mt compound fertilizer for the international market. They have about 50 years experience in the business. They are very keen to invest in South East Asia to fulfill the market demand for Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. A working arrangement was made for them to immediately come in to operate and market the products. Within a month of the official handing over, the Wilson group start-run the Plant. Nonetheless, since further improvement of the Plant need good amount of investment, the official arrangement need to be signed. Unfortunately, the deal doesn’t go through smoothly, too much internal politic, and LCDA-PSHB was advised to withdraw from the deal. We aborted the investment, with condition that we get back on one-to-one basis. The other three major partners also followed LCDA-PHSB footstep.
(40) To this day, the Plant is still struggling to operate. My only regret, the original dream for Sarawak to have large and well managed Fertilizer Plant still remain far reach. It is indeed a waste of time and opportunity for Sarawak to really getting the best full cycle linkages on the effect of the plantation development industry.
(41)Thirteenth Pasir Panjang and Buntal are really sentimental to me. Firstly, Pasir Panjang Project is a project that I promised Taib for the good of lower income families in Kuching. I have deep empathy to our lower income group who badly need family-based recreational ground. My observation while studying in Denver, Colorado deepened my interest in such. Accordingly, I dreamt of Buntal would be a precusor for LCDA-PHSB to turn the whole of Buntal region into the Banana and Dairy Republict; earlier known as Damai IADP, I have followed the failure of the Project since in early 1990s. It took me about four years to get the people there to agree on our development concept for the area. To me, if one really study hard, theses two nutrients, milk and banana are really great diet to make our people healthy, gigantic and strong. I just want to have a formula for our people to be physically respected. Hopefully then they would also be intellectually honored. I just want to answer to Mahathir's statement that Malaysians should just focus on sports that doesn't need physical strength. I went special to PHSB and LCDA BOD to get the Projects awarded to my trusted friends. Unfortunately, the Project becoming a pain in the neck to me, delayed, worst on halt. I made all efforts to help even going beyond the normal norms, thus I have to make real hard crack on these friends. The Project in fact made me lost the only some few close friends that I have. Nonetheless, I care no one when come to my duties. I hit, and I don't look back. Nonetheless the clean up now undertaken would put the Projects back to their objectives. I do hope Rodiyah Sapiee, Hasbi Suhaili, Saiful Bahari and Kamri Ramlee whom I have tasked to finish up the job won't back off in the due course. I left LCDA-PHSB, with a deep guilt: I failed to deliver Pasir Panjang as a Gift to the average Families, as I wished and promised
(42) Fourteenth Darul Hana Planning. In 1990, the KPLB initiate what was called Program Kampung Atas Air. It was intended to improve the Quality of Life of those population within the traditional villages that are affected by poor drainage and frequent inundation. The Villages from Surabaya to Bintawa Hilir was chosen. But due to financial problem, the idea was abandoned. Chin Jew Bui, my college in SPU, almost every time when we have free discourse at his office which was facing the Villages would express his idea to develop the Villages into something that is good for the State and the people. It was by co-incident, when I have a discussion with the Chief Minister in 2009, I pointed out the possibility of these Villages will be the host for the social illness of Kuching in the near future. I have read numerous reports about how bad the social problems in the areas, thus I offered to have a look at the development of those Villages. I remembered, Taib hold my hand and looked deep into my eyes, and answered me strainght: ”I agree and I’m glad you understand that. It is time we must do something. I believe the people are ready”. He than gave a clue that the Village must be developed into a Heritage Malays Settlement. Without wasting time, I began to dream on how the Village should be developed.
(43) Three months later, I threw the first Physical Development Concept and theme of the so called Heritage Settlement. Unfortunately, the initial concept was quickly thrown out by Taib. I felt the challenge. He assigned Abang Zohari, YB Datuk Amar as his Minister in charged for me to work with. He also mooted the name for the Project as Darul Hana. I then began to make some literature reseach on the meaning and concept of Darul Hana: a harmonious place. Then I recalled the Kampung Mortem of Malacca, and studied the setting of the settlement and its environment, but, there is a glaring weakness in the set-up. To me, such system is a merely keeping the Malays as a zoological artifact, a disgrace. I then began to travel to Kelantan and Trengganu. My search for the idea expand to the Pattani region, in southern Thailand. Slowly some concept began to crystalize. The CM began to have some liking of the concept, and he suggested that the Mosque should be the exist of the Plan. But I still believe that the Plan is lacking the spiritual touch. Then I have a discussion with the Madrasah Kg. Pulo Committee and suggested the location of the Madrasah be shifted closer to the Mosque. Some traditional Malays settlements in Kedah, Kelantan and Trengganu gave me some inspiration on the neighborhood mixed of the Project. Taman Mini Indonesia, Sarawak Cultural Village and Taman Mini Malaysia Malacca also gave me some thought.
(44) By early July., 2011, the Plan was considered ready, but then I made a decision to travel to Thailand, Laos, and Chambodia to confirmed my thought. I took a 20 days leave to cover the Cham Villages in Laos and Chambodia. I have read somewhere, the Malays’ tradition especially in Kelantan and Trengganu had lots of similarity with the Cham. My hard pushing travelling alone, in the month of Ramadhan and then having my Aidul Fitri in a nowhere places, with no proper schedule and arrangement brought me to Vientien, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. In all these places I was really inspired on how the France had cleverly blended the local tradition with their architecture and city development fabrics.
(45) Later my visit to many of the mosques in Phnom Penh and as well as recalling back my visit to Sumatera and Pattani, firm my though of making Darul Hana the Malays Spirit-cultural Renaissance Place, a place of a Malay Sense. With such intention in mind, not only Darul Hana would be a Heritage Place, but it would be a long term tourism product that would benefit all races in Kuching and Sarawak in general. The botanical and planter knowledge gave me the real inspiration of Darul Hana Development Concept or Theme; a plant before it could be of benefit to others, firstly it must germinate (nurture), then it must live well to grow well. Thus I threw to the consultants to think on how to make Darul Hana a place for the society to Nurture, Live and Grow. As such, the fabrics that would spur and sustain the elements of good values and characters building, celebrative neighborhood, and economically vibrant community must be well developed and inter-linked in the development of the Project. Indeed, the Darul Hana planning exercise gave me the idea and hopefully later would birth the concept of Soul-based Development that I hope to expand for the redevelopment of Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur and Rantau Panjang-Tumpat in Kelantan. To crystalize the idea, I planned to take at least four months sabbatical leave to Java and Madinah soonest. This planning exercise had at least gave me some satisfaction and sentimental feeling in seeing how those young executives, without any planning skill or knowledge: Khatijah, Siti Rozaimah, Hazrina Illyas, and Azleen began to realize the purpose of life in a bigger sense. I hope they will strive to the spirit.
(46) I felt real honored by Taib Mahmud, the CM and Chairman of LCDA, when on 12.12.11 I received an offer to be the in charged person to implement the Project. I hope, I will not fail to my niat to give the Malays of Kuching and Sarawak in general, to get back their roh that they may had ignored and lost. The name, Darul Hana as chosen by Taib is a inspiration for the recollection of the roh. I hope, I pray, I could deliver as wishes by so many. Prior to this, I would just want to pulang, pergi and kembali to my root and to the Islamic root first. SubhanaAllah, help me so.
XXII: Taib's Interesting Caring Way
These may sound personal, but good to be known, how despite his known tough characters, Taib Mahmud in fact is a very caring and observant person, leader. Few instance I was puzzled by his instructions.
(2)Firstly after one meeting, he told me to get Baijuri Kipli, Datu, the then Director of Land and Survey, to join him to fly over Santubong and Damai area. I managed to get the topo map of the area. He didn't specifically mentioned to me why he want to take me for the helicopter flight. Prior boarding, while walking along with him, he asked me: "Berani naik? Are you OK? Kalau tidak, tidak apa!". Figuring fast what he mean, then only I realized, that was after few incidence whereby the Hornbil Service had been involved with many fatal accidents. Sure my answer to him was: "If you dare, why not me!" In the flight I pointed to him that people, especially families in Kuching lacking of real good outdoor parks and recreational areas. He look at me: "Can you do it here?, while pointing at Pasir Panjang. He later instructed Baijuri Kipli to acquire all those land for the purpose.
(3) Secondly, while doing the Plan for Pasir Panjang development, many times he just brushed the Plan aside and suggested me to firstly go down to Canada. He want me to visit few places there. In fact while in Colorado, I have visited almost all the Rocky Mountain Resort areas. These areas in fact are the best in North America. Thus, Canada is not as that I knew better. I used to visit many times and really wonder in Vail, Golden, Boulder, Spring, Aspen, Las Vegas and many other desert cities resort and really study their set-up. Nonetheless, I just obeyed his instruction the journey took me with some friends: Busrah Bujang, Alina Razak, Cheng and Hii crossing from Montreal to Vancouver, then Denver-Las Vegas-Los Angeles. I have chances to show especially Cheng and Hii Phong Ching on how things were planned and built to the comfort of the publics. The 14 days journeys, crossing the mountains, deserts, plantation, resorts and many others gave the team a feel of the wilderness of America. Then upon returning home, I recalled, what I had seen were nothing more than those I had known, but one thing I really appreciate later was: He just want me to take a break!. I have not taken leave since I came-in in 2002. I wonder how he had realized that?
(4) Thirdly, in early 2010, Busrah Bujang came to see me. He told me that Daud Abdul Rahman, YB Datuk, the Assistant Minister for Islamic Affair, gave him a called and asked him to take me for an oversea leave. The idea came from Taib. Daud was having the impression that Busrah Bujang was my very best friend since we used being seen together. I was puzzled and immediately gave Daud a called. He told me that Taib want me to take a leave. Get out of the job for a while. At the same time, in the market there were rumor that I will soon be transferred to another Organization. In 2009 was also my hard hitting years to some senior staffs. Few days later, Hamid Sepawi, Datuk a big State corporate guy called me up for a breakfast. He never did this before. Again I was told that Taib was worried of me for being too tough and may cause me my health. He again told me that Taib wanted me to take a break. He even suggested me to look for someone to care about me. To me, now thing becoming too touchy. Personal indeed.
(5) About a week later, I bumped on Tengah Ali Hassan, YB Datuk Amar, Second Minister for Planning and Resource Management, and he hold me to his office. He told me: "Big Boss is worried of you. Can you be a bit soft. He want you to take a break. Pergilah mana-mana, rehat dan fikir macamana you should soften yourselves especially with your staffs". At this juncture, my mind was to give Mustapha Han, Datu, Taib's Chief Private Secretary a call for me to have a direct audience with Taib. After these three Taib's right hand men had spoken to me, I can't take the matter easy. I want a direct communicate with Taib. I did that later, and met him in person. The meeting was really personal, he talked about some of his personal life and anticipated that I might going along the same course. He strongly advice me to take a break and look for someone to take care of me. I was touched. I walked out of his office with mixed feeling.
(6) In fact, since 2007 I have the intention to leave the State service, thus I already sort of targetting the latest by 2012 I must leave. Since in 2009, I found out that I have not accomplished much especially to leave LCDA-PHSB to really in a healthy state, I decided to be much tougher and be more aggressive. If I give in, then, I may failed to deliver. If I turn too soft, I might also get stuck into longer time span to serve LCDA-PHSB. Accordingly, I also need to build my new family life. Time really not with me. I seem to stand between the State and my personal needs.
(7) When on 26 Sept, 2011 after my application for early retirement was agreed I met him to wish a goodbye. In that one hour meeting he talked on many things that he want to do, but not much people around to help. So, he asked me:"What are you going to do then?". Jokingly I told him: "I'll get RM2,880.00/month for my pension. I can't do much. I just want to stay in MyKampung. Subuh Azan, Dzuhor Azan, Assar Azan, Maghrib Azan, Isya Azan. I'll spend most of my time in the Surau. Reading and might be writing. Just relax". He laughed. He said:"OK take a rest first. Get yourself a wife. Later come and see me. Don't waste your talent. I need you be around".
(8) To readers, please never ever conclude that, there you are, you sacrificed hard, and yet what did the government did to take care of you. I strongly urge, never ever have a second thought about scarifying for the State, just remember what Allah had given Abdul Razak Husein, Tun or even Nelson Mandela after their long sacrifice. Sometime the glitch in our lives, has nothing to do with the State, but with certain characters that we must deal with, if we choose to, but if we are smart and have faith in Allah, just let them bleed to their death without our fight. In the other words, I just love to leave those irresponsible fellows, to learn and bleed by themselves. Just remember, a cat or dog which stole from our home will never be at peace. Time will come, insyaAllah.
XXIII: Words of Farewell
My leaving the service is a surprise to many. I have a clear determination of what I need to do, my life purpose. I just want to serve His people the Best, but that would need a greater paradigm change. I need to have a better paradigm to make a greater in road to my struggle, to meet my doa for me to be able to Serve Him to the Best. Thus under the present circumstances I began to feel some unnecessary hindrance either external or internally within me. I decided to have a breakaway from my present norms and the best way would be to really experience the concept of Hijrah that Allah had imposed onto Muhammad SAW. Nonetheless as not to frustrate my colleges, I organized a meeting to keep afloat their fighting spirit:
(2 ) On the 19 Sept., 2011, upon my returned from my Thai-Laos-Chambodia search, I met with all my staffs and brief them on the reasons why I want to leave the service. Upon thinking hard, to keep them to the high sacrifice spirit, I just want them to remember a true life story of a very close friend of mine:
“I have a friend. He came from Kedah. We studied together during the Secondary and University level. He came from a poor family. We were real close. We used to share many things together. I used to help him on food and other small expenses despite I personally have no one to turn to. Nonetheless he was smart especially in Mathematics. When graduated, he worked with the Bank and later quit to be a broker. He really worked hard and became millionaire in short span of time. I have chances to enjoy his success whenever I came down to Kuala Lumpur. We used to drive in his sporty Mercedes to Malacca, Johor Baharu and even Singapore to enjoy many things. He really enjoys his luck. His life-style was superb.
Since he no more talked about his poor Kampung as we used to share when we were kids and students, I tried to remind him on those. I sometimes request him to take me back to his Kampung and meet those poor people that we used to meet. But, he was not interested to the idea, and really told me off: ”Last time we were deadly poor. We shared even a bowl of Maggie. Nobody come to our help. Now, we made to where we are, not for free, but with lots of sacrifice and hard work. Let these people work for their lives”. I was sad to his indifferent attitude to the needy. I began to distance myself. I just want to keep to where I was. I just then in contact with him through phone. We don’t meet much regular.
He had everything in his life dream. Beautiful wife. Great kids. Good house. Great cars. Great modern urban, affluent living. Time passed by fast. Later, his in-laws fallen sick, one after another. He had to spent lots of money on them. They passed away. The global economy swung to bad. Then business doesn’t go well. He went broke. His wife left him. He sent his kids to his parents to take care. But later, his parents were also leaving. He was real lonely. That was the time, I met him to a ‘teh tarik’ at Chow Kit Road while I was having my boiled cockles. I spent many long weekends with him, trying to figure out the best option for him to revive. He gave up. He took his life then by anti-depression drug. I was sad. That was months back. I began to lost lots of good friends whom I shared many dreams when I was kids and students days.
My last words to my colleagues: God is interesting. His act is always a Mystery. When we take too much, the more we lost. When we give more, the more we receive. That is how He had set the Law of the Nature”
(3) On 12 Dec., 2011, I again made a point to meet all my executives. I really want to see that those I will leave will keep to their responsibility and true purpose of life. I again told them my recollection of how an indifferent attitude toward the fate of the societies had made some nations in a very disadvantage position. I reminded them, once the Sabahan, just being so complacent, to the extent that almost everything was provided by Tun Mustapha, later by Harris Salleh, then Pairin Kitingan, they almost gone bankrupt. Equally bad, in Kelantan, despite their high portion of great intellectuality and hard working population, they remain top three poorest State in the country. What happen to the Pattani, the Cham, the Khmer-Laos, the Chambodia, the Sulus, and many others, are all because most of the responsible civil servant or GLCs took their indifferent attitude toward the need for a hard nation building sacrifice.
(4) To serve well everybody must work hard to get the correct knowledge and skill, and thus must be honest and determine to the course of the Organization. They (we) are the fortunate few, that must remember, the position that they (we) hold, doesn't matter what, is meant to serve the people, the State. That is the purpose of public related service. Any deviation from such, it is immoral and irresponsible.
XXIII: A Small Inspiration
By 31 Dec., 2011, I then have served three great institutions: SPU as macro-planner, thinking hard for the State, R&DO as people-grass root based Organization infusing the principle of people at heart, and LCDA-PHSB a semi-corporate entity to push hard for greater development. I'm real happy to have served such a diverse environments. I'm also happy after serving for 25 years and three months (1 Oct., 1986-31 Dec., 2011), in fact personally I have achieved beyond my initial dreams. Firstly to be a Resident at a very young age (39 years old), than Director SPU (41 years old, and the shortest), GM/CEO LCDA-PHSB (42 years old, the longest), steering nad managing direct or indirect 100-2 investment companies of LCDA-PHSB, and was among the top six State Civil Servants: SS, SAG,SFS, DSS) and retired among the second lowest in the officer level hierachy of the State Civil Service. May be my mum expectation of me, accomplished well, not only to achieve the DO working status, but to retire at the DO level as well. Well mum, I'm your son who honor you to my best! I believe, that is not my fate, but my choice for my next step as my mum said Yo ngalah, ngaleh sipek: to endure to cure. At least just like Mahathir Mohammed, I retired while I'm at my height, still energetic and healthy.
(2) I'm happy, from being educated as a Natural Science (Botany), then I became a Self Made Economist, Sociologist, Planter, and trained Development Planner and now Self Made Corporate guy with my next journey to be a Thinker, Visualizer who will Write, Compose and Paint. I hope, I work, I pray to achieve that.
(3) I have no summary of a great success, I leave it to the market to determine by itself. I just want to get the young to understand, it is worth to Serve His People Right. I believe, since MyKidDays until now, He has always Cured Me in all MyEndurance. For the next three months, I would be far in a remote Mountain Village in Indonesia, to live with the have not and be one of them, as well as to Study the Past and Present Development of Madina, to give me some inspiration probably to get to my next dream to contribute in turning Kg. Baru, Kuala Lumpur into the I-City as I dream, as well as Rantau Panjang, Kelantan into Islamic Trading City. I hope with such a seclusion I may be able to come back to Serve Him to the Best. InsyaAllah.
(4)To the young executives and officers, please, to be successful, one don't have to wait for the next instruction from the boss. We must be brave enough to to walk 1,000 steps ahead. The greatest success is about Serving the People the Best. Once again, to all my colleagues in LCDA-PHSB as a Group, I appreciate to all the sacrifice and determination shown in rendering your best service. What done is still not the best, there is always room to do better. Sorry for not attending the 2011 Annual Dinner. It look bad, but equally painful for me to turn you guys down at the last minute. I have very basic principle, I want what I want, and I want those for the people. Pasir Panjang and Buntal, no doubt had made me lost the few only friends that I have, and as I said, I don't mind to loose everything for the good of the public. I have to stick to my principle, as I said, to my graveyard. I can't and will never tolerant to things that doesn't serve our people to their very best expectation.
(5) Thanks, good luck and may Allah the Almighty gives all the best health and strength for us to serve to the best, for all. See you again as and when we see and meet, here or hereafter. I just want to go kicking hunting around for awhile! MasyaAllah, InsyaAllah. SubhannAllah. Alhamdullilah.
17 Sept.-30 Dec., 2011