Friday, August 31, 2007

34th Asian Regional Training & Development (ARTDO) International Conference, Bali August 28-31..continuation...



















I got back from Ngurah Rai last night,touching down at LCCT at about 15 minutes just after midnight and just-in-time to see the fireworks of our 50th MERDEKA celebrations at Putrajaya, from the air. My first experience flying AirAsia heheh. All I can is that...it was fun and you can be rest assured that that won't be the last time I fly AirAsia..hihi. Caught up with long lost friends at ARTDO in Bali. Made some new ones. Great networking but most importantly, immediately after the usual boring opening ceremonies, was my presentation and the panel session. I deliberately let the other two speakers go first...heheh so that I will have the last bang. Aaah...and yezzzeh...a bang it was...hihi. The delegates generally, kinda like my 'Professor Dumbledore character in the famed Harry Potter series' slide...and the corporate governance joke...but only two people laughed at my 'right exposure joke'...and who might that be? none other than my fellow malaysians...and long time friends Dr Palan executive chairman of SMR and Datuk Yau de Piyau the current CEO of HRDF Malaysia....hahaha.

The day before, on the Garuda flight from Jakarta to Denpasar, I met Bapak Gudadi B Sasongko, who is attached to the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs at the East Asian, Asia-Pacific and Africa Directorate. You would straightaway know that he is an embassy guy...pleasant smile, always helpful, global in outlook and very diplomatic, from the brief conversation I had with him while walking to Garuda Indonesia's A330-300 Airbus. Oh ya...he happens to also know my cousin, Ibu Palupi who was at the Indonesian Embassy in KL for a while, now in Jakarta but about to leave for another overseas posting again. Yes, she is indonesian and Javanese. No, I am not Indonesian but proud to be a Javanese...hahahahahaha. its so therapeutic when people come to smiling, saying that they like your presentation, asked for your business card, come sit beside you during lunch, continue discussing the subject both in a scholarly manner as well as looking at it from the real world perspective...what is really going on .. on the ground, heheh...

Oh yes I forgot, during the panel discussion I also took the opportunity to congratulate the Indonesian Government for incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their Corporate Laws and I was told that they are the first nation in the world to do that...followed by a loud applause by the delegates but ....alas...according to Bapak Irwan my Aceh fellow panelist, who is also MD of ING Indonesia in Jakarta and also a member of the Indonesian Corporate Governance Committee said that..that move by the Government did not go down well with the Corporate or Private Sector in Indonesia...hmmmm...according to him, their worries are of an impending moral issues or degration along the way...especially in the implementation context..I was surprised and I said that Bursa Malaysia view that initiative as a great stride in efforts at promoting CSR and I took the opportunity to propagate my worldview that...following Gabler's 'Re-inventing the Government' published in 1992 where in a nutshell he said: that some things the government must do; some are best left to the Private Sector and some, in order to derive optimum economic benefits...must be done through Cooperatives...' and following that thinking...i said...in Asian economies like ours...there must always be government-industry collaboration...rather than interference or intervention... so that redundancies and wastages could be substantially reduced.
I am also uploading a couple more pictures of Bali by night....and a videoclip of this good rock band performing on wednesday nite (ladies nite heheh) at Hardrock hotel...while i enjoyed it very much but the thought of the series of bombings in Bali a few years ago...made me leave the place in a hurry...hahaha....and of course....the paper I presented at the conference is also uploaded below:



34th Asian Regional Training & Development (ARTDO) International Conference August 28-31, 2007 Bali, Indonesia

HRM & Corporate Governance: Strange Bedfellows?

by Khaeruddin Sudharmin MBA(Hull, UK), Fellow PWI(UK), LS 007037
Group Company Secretary HeiTech Padu Berhad &
Managing Director/CEO Motordata Research Consortium Malaysia
in partnership with THATCHAM United Kingdom
tel: +6019 3224344

emails: khaeruddin@e-mrc.com.my
ksudharmin@gmail.com

websites: http://www.heitech.com.my/
http://www.e-mrc.com.my/

Abstract

Human Resources (HR) is obsessed with ‘How can we ensure that HR is at the table – and not on the table? Ulrich (2001) contends that there are four possible styles or routes that HR can take: work organization; employee champion; agent for change; and strategic business partner. Practitioners become a fully contributing member of the management team, who is able to participate in the corporate planning process and bring the expertise of HR into the equation with the responsibility to demonstrate how HR can add value and give competitive advantage to the organization. Corporate Governance (CG) on the other hand, is an idea whose time has, it seems, resoundingly come. The remit of CG covers a wide field. Essentially, it has four key issues that will underpin both success and failure in organizations. They are: culture and tone at the top; the CEO; the Board of Directors; and internal controls. It is also about the relationship between the board and its shareholders; the composition of the board and its committees; the remuneration of executives; the salience of the audit committees; and not least, the concepts of openness, disclosure, and transparency. Nobody seriously quarrels with the rapidly evolving trend in CG. How could anyone take issue with laws and regulations and rules and codes that are designed to encourage listed companies to conduct their affairs properly and in their own interest? Clearly the concept of both HR and CG continue to catch the imagination of writers on management and of many managers themselves. This is not surprising for it is clear from a range of research around the world that many contemporary organizations are faced with unprecedented environmental change and that speedy and effective adaptation is the key to survival.

Apparently, HR and CG has a series of common denominators beginning with: in that the consolation is the consequent toning-up of management, leading to enhanced performance, which will be, in turn, reflected in the share price, and that both HR and CG are at the strategic level of the firm. At the extreme end of the continuum, HR is a board level issue and CG is also a board level issue. Both have strong legal frameworks. In today’s heightened global awareness and concern for people and the environment, it would be suicidal for organizations not to adopt an integrated approach to harnessing both the strengths of HR and CG, propagate a symbiotic relationship between the two (HR & CG) that can enhance both their strategic roles. In an economy increasingly based on knowledge and people, linking HR initiatives to business strategies and to significant increases to shareholder value is the order of the day. The HR field has been under much scrutiny and in great need for change. It would be frivolous to pass on the opportunity of converting the rhetorics of CG into reality by cascading the whole concept and architecture of CG to all levels of staff. The author suggests that an impending strategic alliance between HR and CG could be viewed by some cynics as strange bedfellows.




Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen,

To talk to a network of social scientists, HRM and HRD experts, professionals and academics who belong to corporations, research and training institutions from both the public and private sectors in the Asia-Pacific region, one must also be a scientist in his or her own right! (quipped a friend of mine recently!). And when we talk of scientists and sciences, the fundamental natural imagination would be a set of dissection kit and each and everyone of you ladies and gentlemen, armed with a scapel in your hands, ready to dissect me! When I received an email from the organisers giving me the go-ahead to speak on “HRM & Corporate Governance: Strange Bedfellows?”, to a group of professionals and academics who are already experts in their field, I am inclined to essentially engage in distillation; and such a process may be thought incapable of doing justice to what could have been a lifetime’s grinding labour for some. At worst, I could be accused of trivialising by simplifying. Or if I may borrow Montaigne’s (French moralist and essayist, 1533-1592) words, that it could be said of me in this paper, I have only made up a bunch of other men’s flowers, providing of my own only the string that ties them together. The endeavour has been to share with you distinguished delegates, some ideas and theories and while accuracy has always been striven for, events may already have outdated some of what will be said here!

The theme of the 34th ARTDO International conference is “Human Resource Management – People and the Environment” with the objective of accelerating human resource development to an optimum level. We shall not dwell too much on the semantics as to what is HRM and what is HRD and one can arguably debate till the cows come home as to what is meant by HRM or HRD and the similarities or differences thereof. I will adopt an approach that will enable HRM and HRD to be viewed interchangeably whilst cognizant of the empirical evidences and massive literature available as to their definitions per se. The timeless quest as we are all too familiar with, is the holistic approach to human resource management: i.e., linking people with their creator (spiritual); people with people (social); and people with the environment (nature). It seems fashionable these days to relate much of management and stewardship of organizations both public and private, to be tied somehow rather with ‘global warming’. It may be a figment of an imagination to some views, but facts and figures we read, the experiences, and recent phenomena, is a scary wake-up call for everyone. The threat of an impending global warming is real and is here. How can HR practitioners at large, look beyond their mere tools and systems in leading their ‘measurement managed’ HR architecture or as mere strategic powerhouses in today’s organisations? The Strategic HR Scorecard (Becker, Huselid, Ulrich 2001) outlines a powerful measurement system that highlights the indisputable role HR can play as both a prime source of sustainable competitive advantage and a key driver of value creation much in opposition to Porter’s contention in his famous five diamond theory that HR is only a supporting operational role in the overall strategic intent. This HR scorecard is designed to embed human resource systems within a firm’s overall strategy and manage the HR architecture as a strategic asset. The model promises to link HR’s results to measures – such as profitability and shareholder value which we will see later on where I am getting at. The authors further argues that HR’s strategic role begins with designing an HR architecture –the HR function, the HR system, and strategic employee behaviours – that relentlessly emphasizes and reinforces the implementation of the firm’s strategy. If I can then crystallize, Human Resources (HR) therefore, is obsessed with ‘How can we ensure that HR is at the table – and not on the table? Ulrich (1998) contends that there are four possible styles or routes that HR can take: work organization; employee champion; agent for change; and strategic business partner. Put in another way, practitioners then become a fully contributing member of the management team, who is able to participate in the corporate planning process and bring the expertise of HR into the equation with the responsibility to demonstrate how HR can add value and give competitive advantage to the organization.

Corporate Governance (CG) on the other hand, is an idea whose time has, it seems, resoundingly come. Corporate Governance is defined as…”the process and structure used to direct and manage the business and affairs of the company towards enhancing business prosperity and corporate accountability with the ultimate objective of realising long-term shareholder value whilst taking into account the interest of other stakeholders” (the Malaysian definition as per the Finance Committee on Corporate Governance Report, February 1999). According to Anglo-Saxon definition, Corporate Governance refers to the set of mechanisms designed to maintain an appropriate balance between the rights of shareholders and the need of the Board and Management to direct and manage the corporation’s affairs and ensure the company optimise over time, the returns to shareholders” (McKinsey & Company). The Cadbury Report 1992 refers to corporate governance as “…the system by which companies are directed and controlled. Board of Directors are responsible for the governance of their companies. The shareholder’s role in governance is to appoint the directors and the auditors and to satisfy themselves that an appropriate structure is in place.” The remit of CG covers a wide field. Essentially, it has four key issues that will underpin both success and failure in organizations. They are: culture and tone at the top; the CEO; the Board of Directors; and internal controls. It is also about the relationship between the board and its shareholders; the composition of the board and its committees; the remuneration of executives; the salience of the audit committees; and not least, the concepts of openness, disclosure, and transparency. Dr Madha Mehra, president of the World Council for Corporate Governance says that “…good governance is not simply about corporate excellence. It is the key to economic and social transformation. The corporation of today are no longer sheer economic entities. These are the engines of economic and social transformation.” Nobody seriously quarrels with the rapidly evolving trend in CG. How could anyone take issue with laws and regulations and rules and codes that are designed to encourage listed companies to conduct their affairs properly and in their own interest? The Conference Board Governance in the USA for instance, has, in response to continuous developments in the realm of corporate governance, a new handbook to assist board of directors in the performance of their duties. It is an up-to-date compendium organised by the variety of functions in the director’s job description, including: nominee selection and election process, diversification of professional expertise and background, delegation of authority to board committees, conduct of board meetings, adoption of governance guidelines, succession planning, engagement of outside compensation consultants, disclosure procedure and internal control oversight, strategy design and risk governance and appropriate D&O liability insurance coverage. In the US especially, due to the complexity of the legal environment and the pressure exercised by multiple constituents inside and outside the company, directors face today, a number of challenging issues. Following the 2002 enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, there has been more than twenty (20) major SEC rulemakings aimed at enhancing public disclosure, removing conflicts of interest, making management more accountable, reinforcing the authority and effectiveness of gatekeepers (outside auditors and securities analysts in particular), strengthening the pay-for-performance equation, and improving transparency. Much like a ‘best practice’ guide. Highlighting as well, the influence of shareholder activism in the boardroom, and investors in the US expects board members, not regulators, to be the leading force in corporate governance in the future.

(World Governance Indicator table is as the image above)

Closer to home, Malaysia, His Excellency The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister at a keynote address at the seminar on the National Integrity Plan on 8 August 2005, said that “…there seems to be a growing demand for corporations and organizations to be more socially accountable. The call for increased corporate social responsibility is becoming louder by the day. Corporations and organisations would do well to heed this call.” This, is what we mean by taking corporate governance one step further. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) the next level of corporate governance, is about what businesses do and how their actions impact the environment and society at large. The intent of business therefore is not just about creating wealth alone but doing it responsibly. Public concern and consumer opinions can influence business performance and this can translate to the company’s bottom line.

Clearly the concept of both HR and CG continue to catch the imagination of writers on management and of many managers themselves. This is not surprising for it is clear from a range of research around the world that many contemporary organizations are faced with unprecedented environmental change and that speedy and effective adaptation is the key to survival. We have also witnessed so far, how HR and CG are orchestrated in organisations. Both private and public organisations. They are separately championed. Some occupy not so strategic a level in some organisations. Some, are in strategic positions but encounter operational and execution problems. It is a typical organisational problem. Both in terms of structure and strategy. And we know that following the famous dictum that ‘structure follows strategy’ as propagated by Alfred Chandler the management guru, whereby he created en passant the very concept of structure which is not to be confused with organization. More often than not, strategic alliances among functional areas are viewed as unworkable by the very nature of their inward looking strategic myopia and the constant quest of ‘doing it alone’ perhaps also because their leaders simply want to be ‘little napoleons’ in their organisations. In the case of HR and CG becoming strange bedfellows, the author contends that there are commonalities which can result in a win-win situation. Firstly, both HR and CG are at a strategic level in the organization. Secondly, both have solid legal frameworks. Working together, HR and CG can ensure that the virtues and ideals of CG does not remain as rhetorics only at board level but are cascaded to every level of the organization and who would be in the most effable position to carry that out if not for the HR boys (and girls!)? Strange bedfellows as it may, the author contends that the strategic alliance between HR and CG may, yet again herald a new dawn in interpretations of cooperation and co-opetition at both the micro and macro levels of organisational theory. It does not just sound good theoretically, but it would be interesting to study companies who will would be brave enough to adopt this proposal and probably reap decently handsome profits whilst at the same time fulfil the very loud global demands for corporate social responsibility. The writer believes that Good HR practices coupled with honest and genuine upholding of generally accepted corporate governance practices, will put organisations in good stead in whichever society one is in.

Let me reiterate that it is apparent that HR and CG has a series of common denominators beginning with: in that the consolation is the consequent toning-up of management, leading to enhanced performance, which will be, in turn, reflected in the share price, and that both HR and CG are at the strategic level of the firm. With changing demographics and a greying workforce in developed and developing nations, competition for scare and quality human talent will intensify, making sustainability essential to attract a good workforce. Many business case studies have shown that people naturally desire to work for companies they believe are contributing positively to society. Furthermore, companies that employ CSR/CG-related perspectives and tools usually create an environment for increased loyalty and commitment from employees. By maximizing benefits, providing work incentives and equal-opportunity promotion opportunities, flexible conditions, training and career development, all of which are frequently addressed in CG/CSR exercises, companies can recruit desirable employees, retain them, motivate them to develop skills, and encourage them to pursue learning to discover innovative ways to not only reduce costs but to also identify and take advantage of new opportunities that spell business potential and reduce risks. Studies have also shown that companies that do not demonstrate such engagement, i.e., sound corporate governance practices, will continuously be saddled with high staff turnover, recruitment costs and low productivity.

At the extreme end of the continuum, HR is a board level issue and CG is also a board level issue. Both have strong legal frameworks. In today’s heightened global awareness and concern for people and the environment, it would be suicidal for organizations not to adopt an integrated approach to harnessing both the strengths of HR and CG, propagate a symbiotic relationship between the two (HR & CG) that can enhance both their strategic roles. In an economy increasingly based on knowledge and people, linking HR initiatives to business strategies and to significant increases to shareholder value is the order of the day. The HR field has been under much scrutiny and in great need for change. It would be frivolous to pass on the opportunity of converting the rhetorics of CG into reality by cascading the whole concept and architecture of CG to all levels of staff. The author suggests that an impending strategic alliance between HR and CG could be viewed by some cynics as strange bedfellows.

Thank you.

References:

The Hidden Leverage of Human Capital, Jeffrey A Oxman, MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2002 Vol.43 No.4

Best Practices in Human Resources, Case Study III (Leadership Development Programs), National Productivity Corporation Malaysia, February 2005

The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy and Performance, Harvard Business School Press, 2001

Reforming Corporate Governance in South East Asia: Economics, Politics and Regulations, Institute of South East Asian Studies, Singapore, 2005

Strategy Synthesis, Bob de Wit & Ron Meyer, Thomson Learning, UK, 2005

World Governance Indicators, New Straits Times, Wednesday, July 11, 2007-08-19

Sustainability: Taking Corporate Governance One Step Further, Vol III, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), August 2005

The Conference Board, Corporate Governance Handbook 2007: Legal Standards and Board Practices, Matteo Tonello, PhD

Good Governance: Towards Organizational Effectiveness and Integrity, Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance, Kuala Lumpur, 2007


video

34th Asian Regional Training & Development (ARTDO) International Conference, Bali, August 28-31









Thursday, August 23, 2007

I was browsing the net today, downloaded the wharton school alumni newsletter (summer 2007) and then accidentally went to the GSE website...and this was what I saw and read (below). Approaching 50 years of independence, we now talk of studies in ethnic relations, but look at the US, after over more than 200 years of independence...they still continue to grapple with race relations, biases, prejudices, and use more politically-correct terms like minority groups...so I guess there's really hope in us redefining, re-engineering our society so that we can continue to achieve unity in diversity....food for thought eh? heheh


THE CHRONICLES OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Graduate School of Education, Pennsylvania State University
Home Search
OBSERVER
Who's Biased Now?
By MARYBETH GASMAN
Recently one of my students — an African-American woman — came to my office with a disturbing question: Had I given her an A on a paper she wrote for my "History of Higher Education" course because she was a member of a minority group? Shocked by her question, I asked her why that idea had occurred to her. She answered, "I shared my graded paper with a white student whom I trust, and she said there wasn't anything special about it and that you must have given me the grade because you like students of color." At first I was speechless — stunned and angry. But at the same time I wondered what she must be feeling, and what experiences she had had that made her so mistrustful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bagehot...my favourite Economist columnist...heheh

Read it....some stuff he said there sounds ratherf familiar..hihi...makes one wonder where we could have picked our habits from...heheh...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Weddings oh Weddings and the School Holidays...





Yesterday was monday, the first day of the school holidays. My son began his holiday by losing his kodak digital camera. He dare not tell me but informed his mother instead. And yesterday too was a wedding I attended alone as my wife, who left me for a one whole week away in New Zealand, left me again for her ministry's meeting in Malacca. The wedding was that of the daughter of a long time friend, Tuan Haji Shuib who is general manager of MIDFCCS and was the company that arranged for our HeiTech's listing on the main board almost a decade ago. At my table was also old friends from Aseambankers who were our merchant bankers during that listing exercise. There was Wong and his wife and Wan Asmadi and his wife with a baby coming along soon ...heehee. The whole PwC gang were also present and I caught up with my Hull alumnus, Chin Kwai Fatt, the current PwC managing director. There were others too, like ahmad husni vp, biotechology at Technology Park Malaysia and yes, I bumped into Tan Sri Mohd Salleh Yassin former UKM Vice-Chancellor and now the new VC of United Nations University based at the UN Building, Jalan Semantan, Kuala Lumpur. One of the nice things about weddings is that one gets the chance to catch up on old long lost friends. However, there is something not nice that I observed that I must put in writing...hmmm...I noticed that beng late is becoming to be a norm among malaysians, specifically malays at malay weddings these days. the card says arrival at 8pm...and we still see people walking in shamelessly into the wedding halls....further aggravating the already butterly-filled tummies of the 'tuan rumah' and probably screwing up their agenda too. Some places that I have gone to, fortunately, are able to adjust the program in such away that everything was covered in good time. I must not forget to also note down that apparently, weddings at Felda Perdana Ballroom has a unique attraction in their ermmmm...irresistible tapai with vanilla ice-cream? (see picture...heehee). Tantalising and awfully salivating...isnt it?. Oh...that lontong and that foamy tehtarik was not part of the wedding menu...hihi...that wuz my breakfast this morning at the basement canteen of heitech village...hahaha....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hacker-Halted...






The afternoon of thursday,august 15, I was at crowne plaza mutiara hotel (former KL Hilton) by accident. HeiTech was a diamond sponsor to a IT security conference attended by many CIOs from various sectors both private and public. I was there at the wrong(right?) time and was roped in to give a 5 minute closing thank you remark to the well over 300 delegates. I said thank you to everyone on behalf of HeiTech, for the opportunity to sell our new Tier IV compliant disaster recovery and data centre at bukit jelutong and in a jest said that we forgot to screen diehard 4.o on our brand new LCD screeen...hahaha. Before I got off the rostrum...which normally I will not...no until I have spoken for at least 45 minutes !!! hahaha...I reminded everyone of risks and exposures we all have to live with...however..the trick is to know the RIGHT EXPOSURE...which I then related to a story of a professor who was bathing in the River Cherwell in Oxford, at a place called Parson's Pleasure, in which it was the custom to swim naked. As the professor got out of the pool a punt of undergraduettes glided by, whereupon he grabbed his towel and wrapped it round his head.....heheh... the last thing i heard..after about a 2 second silence....a roaring laughter from the floor....hahaha.

ABER Malaysia hosts dinner for Lord Morgan at Putrajaya Lake Club











On aug 15, i got a call from Fariz's PA inviting me to join the simple dinner to host Lord Professor Kenneth Owen Morgan and his daughter Catherine. Catherine is head of strategy branch (assets, savings and wealth team) at HM Treasury, London. The dinner was hosted by the current committee of the Aber alumni malaysia. Not many, as usual, turn up. I always try to attend all of aber functions even though i am not an aberite myself. the long relations i had with the university of wales at aberystwyth made most people think that i am an aberite hahaha. the malaysian alumni has made me an honorary fellow and that OSA at aberystwyth has recognised that.... so whenever i attend the easter reunions at aberystwyth, i too attend the OSA AGMSs and committee meetings with the malaysian alumni president....heheh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BURSA MALAYSIA/MAICSA listing requirements update Roadshow at Sime Darby Convention Center


Today I attended the roadshow by Bursa Malaysia. Not so boring. Quite informative, illuminating and entertaining at some point by my favourite speaker Cng Boon Huat the enforcement chief of bursa malaysia hehehe. The speaker on Investor Relations I would him low marks for his powerpoint slides, speaks sooo monotonously I couldn't realy figure out what he was mumbling away....and can you imagine? he was trying to sell us what investor relations is all about...hmmmm. The last speaker on CSR...corporate social responsibility was ok...macam cikgu atau law lecturer bercakap...rambling away her verbal diarrhoea...hahaha...sounds familiar and very academic at times...well still much too rethoric to me lah...hihi

INPUMA Public Lecture Series XII





Yesterday at 4.45pm I was at the front VIP row of the closing ceremony of a global governance conference where keynote addresses were delivered by HRH The Crown Prince of Perak Tuanku Dr Raja Nazrin, Datuk A Kadir Jasin (ex-GEIC the mainstream media) and publisher of Malaysian Business who is also close friend. The closing was done by The Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan. Followed immediately after tea-break the public lecture by lord professor kenneth o morgan. I was seated next to Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid ex-Chief Judge of Malaya also a close friend. Others present included senator tan sri jins shamsudin, politicians, tan sri arshad ayub, and was moderated by tan sri abdul hamid pawanteh former chief minister of perlis and current president of the senate, malaysia. Lord Professor Kenneth Owen Morgan spoke on the constitutional challenge and political change in the United Kingdom. After his lecture I went up to him...heheh...he still remembers me and said I must have lunch lunch with him at the house of Lords the next time i am in london or dinner or English tea at his home in longhansborough just outside oxford. The last time I was with him was in 1995 just before he retired as the senior Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.



Sunday, August 05, 2007

Can the Muslim world be re-branded?
By Thomas Fuller
Published: May 28, 2007 International Herald Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR: Can the Muslim world be rebranded? Led by Malaysia and Indonesia, political and business leaders from Asia, North Africa and the Middle East vowed at a conference here Monday to reshape the image of Islamic countries, aiming to replace visions of poverty and violence with vibrancy, trade and, ultimately, prosperity.
"We must change our partners' perception of the Muslim world," said Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of Indonesia, who gave the keynote address.
"We must change their attitudes toward us from something negative or indifferent - if not hostile - to something positive and enthusiastic."
Whether or not the mission is successful, the meeting here of the third annual World Islamic Economic Forum put on display the frustration that many leaders in Muslim countries have for being associated with corrupt, dysfunctional governments and intractable conflict.
The speakers, including government ministers from Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, hardly mentioned the Palestinians, Iraq or terrorism. Instead, they talked about job creation, streamlining bureaucracy and strengthening intellectual property rights.

By holding the conference in Kuala Lumpur, its organizers hoped to underline the successes of Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia in marrying moderate Islam with modernity.
Both are multicultural countries, a contrast to the rigid Wahhabi tradition of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, for instance.
In a series of speeches notable for their self-deprecation, leaders castigated Muslim societies for neglecting education and for offering copious rhetoric but little action.
"We as leaders of the Muslim world need to take responsibility for ourselves and our citizens," said Sheik Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi, the crown prince and deputy ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, a part of the United Arab Emirates. "We need to make sure that our young people can find jobs."
Shortfalls in education in Muslim countries "make people vulnerable to misinformation," he added.
Yudhoyono said Muslim countries needed to change what is taught in madrasas, the Islamic schools that have been criticized for being heavy on religious training and light on science, technology and the humanities.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, the host of the gathering, said Muslims needed to steer their populations toward the "idea of work as worship."
"We must break the shackles of rigidity and dogma that currently envelop Islam," he said, restating the theme that underlies his policies in Malaysia. "We must go beyond rituals and ceremonies."
Abdullah and Yudhoyono both said that the Muslim world should leverage its control over the world's oil resources - more than two-thirds of the world's energy needs are provided by Muslim countries, Yudhoyono said - to gain access to knowledge and technology.
"The wealth is there for us to invest," Abdullah said.
Despite a similar name and logo, the World Islamic Economic Forum has no connection to the annual meeting of business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
The Islamic forum, which met for the first time in 2005, expanded this year to include meetings dedicated to the role of women and young people in Muslim countries.
By focusing on business both among Muslims countries and with the wider world, Islamic countries can help play down the stubborn issues that divide Muslims and non-Muslims, said P. Miles Young, the chairman of Ogilvy & Mather in Asia, which co-sponsored the conference.
"Business itself is a bridge for what seem to be two competing worlds or two clashing civilizations," Young said. "It is through business that there is common ground."
The notion of the "Muslim world" as an economic bloc is still mainly wishful thinking. Muslim countries conduct very little trade among themselves. Defined as the 56 member nations of the Islamic Development Bank, Muslim countries send 51.5 percent of their exports to industrialized countries, compared with just 13.5 percent to fellow Muslims nations, according to the bank.
Perhaps for that reason, some participants found the emphasis on Muslim solidarity retrograde and unhelpful.
Hakima el-Haite Mounir, director of the largest waste management company in Morocco, said the focus at the conference on Muslim solidarity could backfire.
"Aren't we moving backward in putting up religious boundaries?" she asked. "We should all be trying to remove barriers, to move against the segregation of the world."
Khalida Azbane Belkady, director of Groupe Azbane, a cosmetics company also based in Morocco, said the emphasis should be more squarely on business - whether among Muslims or non-Muslims."We are Muslims and we are women," she said. "But maybe we should stop talking about Muslim this-and-that and just get to work."
The meeting of women business leaders, which took place Sunday, was a feisty session that could have been mistaken for a convention of American feminists in the 1970s.
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Friday, August 03, 2007

'The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens loved to paint. It is conceived and moved, seconded and carried and minuted, in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails, and smooth-shaven chins, who do not need to raise their voices. '
--C.S.Lewis

At a time when there are lots of hoo-haa about increasing crime rates in our country, alot of hissing sounds of complaints, dissatisfactions (perceived) from the public with our police, judiciary, government, and everything else in the system, wether with sufficient evidence or just mere hearsay or at worst, conspiracy theories....let me put my two sen worth of opinion to all these...by posting the above quote. Written quite a long time ago but...hmmm is soo relevant today...lest we forget. Perhaps it should be a reminder to all of us that crime can happen anytime anywhere and not necessarily in places we have been attuned to think that they normally would occur....don't you think so?

2007 Company Secretaries' Conference

I will be speaking at this year's annual M2Asia conference, please read details. It is flattering to be invited to speak. I notice when you are in power, or in a reasonably powerful position (as perceived by some...) you get lots of speaking invites. But then again, I know alot of people in powerful corporate positions who never get invited or got invited once...and that's it...not anymore...for reasons..well...you guess is as good as mine..heehee. Don't get me wrong...power has many faces and connotations...depending from which perspective one is looking at...hihi. At home...it would be an utter disappointment if one thinks that the daddy is all mighty and powerful....when your kids grow up...they are the ones who are really in power....hahaha

The 2007 Company Secretaries' Conference

Venue: Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Conference Date: 13-14 August 2007

Day One – 13 August 2007, Monday

9.00 Opening Remarks from the Chairperson
Wong Tat Chung
Partner
Wong Beh & Toh

9.10 The Role of Company Secretaries in Enhancing the Board Decision Making Process
Muhammad Suria Doshi Abdullah
General Counsel/Company Secretary
Group Legal & Company Secretarial Department
SIRIM Berhad

10.00 Morning Refreshment

10.20 Guidelines for Company Secretaries Considering M&A as a Corporate Expansion Strategy
Tai Chu Wei
Partner
Raja, Darryl & Loh

11.10 Best Practices in Corporate Governance to Ensure Business Success
Wong Tat Chung
Partner
Wong Beh & Toh

12.00 Company Secretaries Responsibility in the Financial Management of the Company
Mohd Zam bin Mustaman
Director, Company Secretary
KFC Holdings (Malaysia) Berhad

12.50 Lunch

1.50 Developing and Implementing Enterprise Risk Management in your Organization
Ramesh Pillai
Chief Executive Officer
Friday Concepts (Asia)

2.40 The Essence of Corporate Governance and Shareholder Value
Chan Tuck Wai
Internal Audit Manager
GuocoLand Berhad

3.40 Afternoon Refreshment

4.10 Role of Company Secretaries in Corporate Exercises
Tan Wooi Hong
Senior Associate
Jeff Leong, Poon & Wong

5.00 Close of Day One
Day Two – 14 August 2007, Tuesday

9.00 Opening Remarks from the Chairperson
Lee Leok Soon
Head, Client Services Division
Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG)

9.10 Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Company Secretaries
Navin Pasricha
Chairman
Columbus Circle Group

10.10 Morning Refreshment

10.30 Managing the Role, Duties and Liability of Directors
Lee Swee Seng
Managing Partner
Lee Swee Seng & Co

11.30 Latest Updates in The Companies Act 1965 – What Company Secretaries Need to Know
Associate Professor Dr. Aishah Bidin
Law Faculty
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

12.30 Lunch

1.40 Disclosure Requirements for Related Party Transactions for Public Listed Companies
Sharon Koo
Partner
Lee Choon Wan & Co

2.40 Aligning the Remuneration and Rewards with the Performance of the Board and Directors
Khaeruddin Sudharmin LS 7037
Group Company Secretary, HeiTech Padu Berhad &
Managing Director/CEO, Motordata Research Consortium Malaysia
In partnership with THATCHAM UK


3.40 Afternoon Refreshment

4.00 Company Secretaries in Their Role to Communicate and Protect the Rights of Minority Shareholders
Lee Leok Soon
Head, Client Services Division
Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG)

5.00 Close of Conference

Thursday, August 02, 2007










Speaking engagements....

I have not been documenting much stuff of late. Procrastination and laziness, I guess, are the only excuses I can offer. Perhaps a litle busy too. Writing papers and doing powerpoint presentations for others. And to think I don't have enough of conference papers and powerpoint slides of my own to do? I have quite a few speaking engagements for the month of august/september starting with speaking on:
  1. 'quality leadership' (whatever that means...hahaha) at the International Quality Management Symposium at the KL Hilton august 7, 2.oopm
  2. company secretary conference 2007 - M2Asia at Prince Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, August 13/14
  3. 34th International ARTDO conference, Bali, Indonesia August 28-30 (speaking on: 'HRM & Corporate Governance: STrange Bedfellows?')
  4. Corporate Secretary Conference (Marcus Evans), The Renaissance Hotel, KL, September 4/5
I recently gave a 2 hour lecture at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR) on the subject: redefining ethics and morality in marketing and have bee asked to repeat the same at UITM. I just remembered that I have been invited to speak on Risk Management (MRC case study) at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in september.

THE MALAYSIAN AUTOBODY REPAIR MARKET
- A SNAPSHOT
(this article will be published in the inaugural
issue of bodyshopnewsAsia from Australia)


How do we ensure growth, success and sustainability in the auto body repair industry? Dov Seidman could not have framed it better when he took the idea of success even further by redefining it as a quest for significance, to have a positive impact, to make a difference, to excel. Isn’t that what we all really want? He shows us a new way to think about enduring success in times of change. The auto body repair industry in Asia has to quickly rise up to the demands of operating their businesses in a transparent, wired, global marketplace.

Closer to home, we continue to grapple with unending issues and challenges of the Malaysian auto body repair market. The auto body repair industry in Malaysia is part and parcel of the automotive industry, the motor insurance industry and other stakeholders. Auto manufacturers and insurers have common interests in ensuring on behalf of their common customers – the auto owner who is also the auto insurance policyholder – that auto repairs are carried out in a cost-effective manner and that the automobile being able to meet safety standards and are road-worthy.

The auto body repair fraternity in Malaysia plays no small role in the overall automotive scenario. While there are still ‘under the cherry tree’ type bodyshops, the repair industry is going through an interesting evolution. There won’t be any major revolution. That, I can assure you, but the industry is keeping up with the times. I spoke to the president of the Federation of Workshop Owners Association Malaysia or FOWOAM in short, Cho Chee Seng who himself is a New Zealand trained accountant. He tells me that the nation’s bodyshop repairers, are undergoing transformation and the stereotyped workshop owner is now passing over the baton to their children some of whom are engineers or have had tertiary education abroad in Australia, the UK or the USA. They see things from a different perspective and realize and accept that in order to sustain their business they need to embrace technology and adopt the ‘doing more with less’ approach with a global overview. Bodyshops like Thong Hin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, Wong and Lau Motor Workshops of Ipoh, are some examples of this new wave.

FOWOAM has 3000 members according to Cho, and there are roundabout 15,000 repair bodyshops in the country (including, mechanics and machine shops and those that handle engine blocks as well). The ratio of bodyshops to mechanics in Malaysia is 1:3. Franchise bodyshops make up another 600 and the General Insurance Industry Association of Malaysia or PIAM-approved workshops stands at 800.

While the industry, generally, is not yet overly conscious with legislation and strict environmental laws like their counterparts in Europe, we are moving in that direction. In the UK for instance, the newly launched Publicly Available Standard 125 (PAS 125) in February last year has been touted by some as the savior of the body repair industry. Then there are other legislations or the BA5750/ISO9000 standards for example. But the PAS 125 is particularly important to me because it is industry specific, of a greater technical nature and is sponsored by the industry for the industry. We at Motordata Research Consortium (MRC), being the custodian of the national centralized database for motor repairs estimation, believe that PAS 125, has relevance to our market because its key drivers include, among others, the concern at the rapid increase in repair technology; the multicity and duplication of schemes by various stakeholders to which bodyshops are sometimes subject, causing unnecessary costs and downtime which affect everyone including the policyholder, the acknowledged and growing skills gap; the resultant ‘corporate risks’ of unsafe repairs arising from both legislation and corporate social responsibility; the impending inspection of repair supply chain quality processes and procedures; and the belief that PAS 125 will provide a platform for business improvement.

At the governmental level, the Ministry of Consumer and Domestic Trade, a legislation to license workshops under the Motor Vehicle Repair Maintenance and Services Act, has been drafted. The Malaysian autobody repair industry will soon be regularized (not necessarily regulated though) with the certification of mechanics, technicians within this industry sector. Vocational training with a much more structured approach is being revisited to meet the skill shortages. Again, the image of the industry is not helping efforts at raising the bar and attracting the young in making autobody repairs their career of choice. Other market factors affecting the local autobody repair industry includes, opening up of markets, liberalisation, AFTA et al and the perceived rise in manufacturers’ aggressive inroads into parts, services and after sales services so I was told.

On the automotive front, reports are adorned with news of PROTON’s (our national pride) impending partnership with VW. Car sales in the country are expected to pick up in the third quarter this year, after slipping 12 percent in the first half as reported by today’s mainstream daily. The nation is celebrating its 50th anniversary on August 31st and as the nation matures we hope that the autobody repair industry matures in reasonance. MRC is proud to continue playing its role in building bridges in the motor vehicle repair industries in Malaysia in particular, and in Asia, hopefully in the foreseeable future.

(Khaeruddin Sudharmin, Managing Director & Chief Executive of Motordata Research Consortium Malaysia was a keynote speaker at IBIS2006, Montreux, Switzerland)


High-Tea at the official residence of the deputy prime minister at putrajaya hosted by Datuk Seri Rosmah to honour the visit of Frances Estrada, the newly installed president of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), manila, The Philippines...(25th July, 2007)