I was pleasantly surprised that MAS has managed to achieve a net profit in its fourth quarter last year , as reported in the papers today. The profit, RM122 mil, was better than expected.
This is a full year after MAS has a change in CEO, or in this case, it is known as managing director. Idris Jala, a Sarawakian Bumi, was appointed in December 2005. He immediately instituted a Business Turn Around plan which has shown results, all within a year, faster than most of us expected. This is no easy task because MAS is not just a business entity. There is so much of pressure and interference from politicians too.
The ground people have remained the same, the crew has remained the same, the managers in offices also the same. What makes the difference in this case is truly the leadership and the caliber of the Chief, the managing director.
This reminds me of Lee Iacocca who turned around then the third biggest car manufacturer in the States in the eighties. His story of success was published and became a world best seller.
The success of Idris Jala, in turning around the ailing MAS within a year, is true example of a Bumiputra success story. Idris Jala was never employed in government sector. Instead , before this appointment, he worked for a multinational, Shell, where only meritocracy and good results count. Despite the competition from non Bumi and other Bumi in the company, he was able to rise up the corporate ladders in Shell and became one of the top executives of Shell before he was asked to assume the present post. To climb up the ladder in any multi national company, you have indeed had to be very good. That really shows his caliber.
This confirms what I always believe. In order to excel, you need to go through a competitive environment and only by doing so, can a person’s true potential be cultivated and realised.
If Idris Jala can be successful, so can all others Bumiputra provided they are willing to go through fair competition and meritocracy. I have mentioned a success story of a Malay Entrepreneur in New York earlier in my blog, how this fellow managed to become a big tauke in New York against all other competition, purely on his own merits.
To make our Bumi brothers fully capable of standing on their own and excel, perhaps the first thing to do is to introduce true meritocracy in schools and matriculation. Headmasters of schools, university lecturers and professors should be appointed on their merits, their results and perhaps their published work (in the case of professors). Only by doing this , can we start to cultivate a culture of competitiveness, a culture of excellence in schools and tertiary education.
At the same time, we can slowly remove the clutches in the economic field, government services etc. By slowly doing that, a new generation of competitive Bumi can be produced and I am sure a lot of them will be better than many of the Chinaman and the Indian traders.
What we need is just the political will to institute change and to arrest the deteriorating academic as well as work standard.
I am sure if we do that, we could have unearthed many worthy Bumi talents , both in academic fields as well as in the business arena.