Sunday, July 12, 2020

launching of basic medical check up and awareness services campaign in Ipoh





Speech by M.Kula Segaran on the occasion of launching of basic medical check up and awareness services campaign in Ipoh
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Malaysia has done a remarkable job in containing the Covid 19 pandemic in comparison to other countries who are much developed.

 Inspite of this success it is vital for Malaysians  not to be complacent,and learn from the new spike of Covid 19 cases in other countries.

According to medical professionals  the covid 19 related death rates are higher among  people with pre-existing illness and those who are in the margins of society who cant afford medical check ups.

In this context  it is vital that Malaysians with pre -existing illness follow a  schedule medical check up with commitment  to ensure pre-existing illness like diabates and hypetension are kept under control.

Those who feel they are healthy  should also  go for frequent  medical check ups as a preventive measure.



Keeping this in mind , Team
Ipoh Barat
would be launching a basic medical check up process for Ipoh  residents with the presence  of a doctor.

We have been   providing consistent basic services to our constituents over the years and this new medical check up and awareness campaign are in addition to that.

We hope in a small way we can assist people to be aware of the current medical condition and  to take necessary follow up action.


Health is wealth and all efforts must be streamline to assist the B40 and the less fortunate.

Team Ipoh barat is commited to make this medical project inclusive to all irespective of race and religion.


M. Kula Segaran

Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat, Perak

National Vice-Chairman of the Democratic Action Party

Former Human Resources Minister, Malaysia


The resignation Art Harun reinforces a historical deficit



Dear Editor
The resignation Art Harun reinforces a historical deficit


Conviction to a certain cause is what makes an institution meaningful and respected and credible in the eyes of the people


In the 14th general election Malaysians who desired change did not just vote for political parties to represent change, there was also a desire that individuals with courage and integrity would helm important institutions like election commission, MACC and even GLCs so that meaningful check and balance could be initiated and implemented.


One of those areas that was in a dire need of reforms was the election commission and culture of its operation. It is in public knowledge how this institution was manipulated especially in the delineation exercise over the years to ensure victory for the Barisan Nasional, besides the lack fair play in the conduct of elections.


The appointment of Azhar Azizan Harun was the most awaited appointment done by the PH, as he was set to make historic changes to the Election Commission.

He was even studying the anti-party hopping law, a move that would have discouraged party hopping which violates the people’s mandate.

The work that he could have done could be compared to what Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, has done in India when he was appointed EC Chairman of India.


Seshan single-handedly brought changes that not one of his predecessors could ever have done. He put his foot down to bring meaningful changes which have been felt and emulated globally.


He identified more than hundred electoral malpractices and reformed the election process. Some of the reforms he implemented include enforcement of election code of conduct, Voter IDs for all eligible voters, and a limit on election candidates' expenditure. He curbed several malpractices like bribing or intimidating voters, distribution of liquor during elections, use of government funds and machinery for campaigning, appealing to voters' caste or communal feelings, use of places of worship for campaigns, use of loudspeakers and high-volume music without prior written permission.


Unfortunately, EC chairman has decided to resign without instituting much needed reforms. This reveals a clear repudiation of people's aspiration in 14th General election.


The question is why has Azhar decided to resign in the crucial stage of the nation's history where a backdoor government has been formed and Malaysians would want to see institutional leaders with courage who would not succumb to any pressure or waiver from a given cause?


The fact is Malaysia is in a historical deficit of such leaders since it has been under the BN hegemony for 60 years and now Perikatan Nasional. It seems that leaders with liability exceed those with integrity.


Malaysia has lost a great opportunity for electoral reforms and now it is in the hands of the young to bring about change.





Ronald Benjamin
Secretary
Association for Community and Dialogue

Friday, June 26, 2020

Soalan Parlimen Ipoh Barat untuk Mesyuarat Kedua , Penggal Ketiga, Parlimen Keempat Belas



1) Bertanya kepada Menteri Sumber Manusia mengapa seramai 788,800 orang pekerja telah diberhentikan kerja oleh majikan pada bulan April 2020 sungguhpun Program Subsidi Upah telah dikuatkuasakan dan dilaksanakan oleh kerajaan.


B ) Sila jelaskan penilaian terhadap keberkesanan pelaksanaan Program Subsidi Upah.




2) Bertanya kepada Menteri Sumber Manusia sebab Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad (HRDF) melonggarkan permohonan penyedia latihan sebelum pelancaran inisiatif walaupun terdapat ribuan pelabur serta kepada sesiapa yang telah mengekalkan lesen selama bertahun-tahun dan apakah kriteria yang telah ditetapkan untuk mengeluarkan lesen baru.


B) Nyatakan jumlah lesen yang dikeluarkan sebelum dan selepas Mac 2020




3) Minta Menteri Sumber Manusia menyatakan jumlah majikan yang telah diluluskan di bawah Program Subsidi Upah dan telah menyalurkan subsidi tersebut tanpa memberhentikan pekerja.


b) Sila nyatakan jenis industri yang mempunyai tuntutan tertinggi di bawah Program Subsidi Upah.



4) Minta Menteri Sumber Manusia menjelaskan sektor-sektor ekonomi yang akan dimanfaatkan dengan menempatkan dan melatih calon-calon berhubung dengan inisiatif ‘ Place and Train’ yang diperkenalkan oleh KWPSM / HRDF ? Apakah kriteria yang diambil kira dalam menentukan kelayakan sektor-sektor ekonomi berkenaan?



B) Nyatakan jumlah peruntukan kos latihan untuk setiap sektor yang telah dikenalpasti? Apakah kaedah latihan yang akan dijalankan?



5) Minta Menteri Sumber Manusia menyatakan kaedah-kaedah yang berbeza dan yang telah dikenalpasti untuk memastikan bahawa inisiatif ‘Place and Train ini membuahkan kejayaan sedangkan KWPSM telah melancarkan inisiatif yang serupa seperti 'Place and Train' sebelum PRU14 yang dikenali sebagai 'Train and Place' , tetapi terbukti tidak berjaya setelah berjuta-juta ringgit telah dibelanjakan oleh kerajaan.


6) Minta MENTERI SUMBER MANUSIA menyatakan anggaran pekerja yang hilang pekerjaan akibat pandemik COVID-19 dan strategi yang digunapakai oleh pihak Kementerian untuk menangani pengangguran tersebut.



7) Minta MENTERI SUMBER MANUSIA menyatakan jumlah siswazah yang bakal memasuki pasaran pekerjaan tahun ini dan bagaimanakah Kerajaan boleh memberi jaminan bahawa golongan muda ini akan memperoleh penempatan pekerjaan. Apakah langkah-langkah baru yang diambil Kementerian bagi menangani kadar pengangguran yang semakin teruk.



Pertanyaan bagi Jawab Bertulis



8) Minta MENTERI SUMBER MANUSIA menyatakan langkah dan dasar untuk mengawal pengambilan pekerja asing agar tidak berlaku diskriminasi terhadap pekerja tempatan terutamanya berkaitan hak untuk mendapatkan pekerjaan.



9) Minta Perdana Menteri menjelaskan perkembangan terkini siasatan pihak SPRM terhadap Kuil SRI MAHA Mariamman Devasthanam, Batu Caves yang di mana telah diserbu oleh pihak SPRM pada bulan Mac 2019.


B) Sila nyatakan hasil siasatan dalaman “ Bad Apple ” yang telah dilakukan dan dikenalpastikan oleh pihak SPRM terhadap kuil tersebut.



10) Bertanya kepada Perdana Menteri berapa kalikah Jabatan Peguam Negara (AGC) telah menjalankan AUDIT FORENSIK ke atas Penyata Kewangan Kuil SRI MAHA Mariamman Devasthanam, Batu Caves dari tahun 1992 hingga tahun 2020. Sekiranya tidak, adakah Jabatan Peguam Negara (AGC) akan memberikan pertimbangan supaya mengaudit penyata kewangan Kuil SRI MAHA Mariamman Devasthanam, Batu Caves untuk jangka masa sekurang-kurangnya 10 tahun untuk mengusir keresahan di kalangan orang Hindu terhadap kewangan kuil berikutan dengan serbuan pasukan penyiasat SPRM yang telah merampas berjuta-juta wang tunai, emas dan barang-barang berharga daripada pengerusi dan pemegang amanah kuil tersebut?




11)Bertanya kepada Perdana Menteri mengapakah Kuil SRI MAHA Mariamman Devasthanam tidak berdaftar dengan Akta Pertubuhan 1966 ( Akta 335) atau entiti undang-undang lain untuk memastikan akauntabiliti dan transparensi dipatuhi. Kuil ini masih beroperasi mengikut Perintah Mahkamah sejak tahun 1930.


B) Sila jelaskan perkembangan terkini mengenai tanah Kuil SRI MAHA Mariamman Devasthanam, Batu Caves.




12)Minta Perdana Menteri menyatakan langkah langkah yang bersesuaian untuk merancakkan dan memacu semula sektor perhotelan dan pelancongan agar tidak terlalu terjejas.


b) Apakah langkah-langkah drastik yang akan diambil oleh kerajaan untuk membantu pekerja yang telah menganggur dalam sektor ini?

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Malaysian Insight : It is time the MEF rises above its doomsday prophesy



THE Association for Community and Dialogue (ACID) is concern about the warning by the Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF) that the country will see 2 million retrenchments after Hari Raya.


It is unfortunate that the industrial leaders in this country keep on painting a gloomy picture of the economy, rather than coming up with solutions that would ensure the nation rises to the occasion.


While it is understandable economic times are not encouraging it would be good for corporate Malaysia to come out shining instead of speaking about doomsday.


Below are the approaches a few other countries have tried that corporate leaders could be apply to bring light to the situation:


Employee engagement





It is vital that employee engagement is used as a tool of social solidarity at the workplace. It is through this platform that ideas could emerge on how to work together through the Covid-19 crisis.


There could be new meaningful roles created for employees in this context. Heads of department could co-create new products and systems with their workforce that could help organisations to survive in the new normal.


For example, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages has launched a virtual employee engagement programme that seeks to involve employees and their families online for their physical, and mental wellness.


The company is also conducting virtual town halls at all levels of the workforce to keep everyone updated of the latest and seek their inputs on the best course of action, at a given time.


Welfare of employees



Many organisations today, especially the small and medium enterprises in Malaysia, do not have enduring philosophical foundation in dealing with their human capital.


Are workers merely utilised during good times? Organisations have gone beyond their profit mentality by providing financial and psychological support for their workers in these trying times, instead of merely depending on the government for aid.


This is due to the handsome profits they made during the good times which they want to share with their workers.


For example, the Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate Reliance Industries issued a statement where it said that all employees who are earning below 30,000 rupees a month would be paid twice a month to protect their cash flow and mitigate any overwhelming financial burden.


In order to maintain the mental wellbeing of the employees due to Covid-19, ITC Hotels is maintaining a personal connection with the employees.


Each HR Manager calls a minimum of 10 employees daily to enquire about their health and safety and that of their family members.


More than 1,200 employees have been reached at their homes and extended necessary support.


Training and development


In this moment of uncertainty, it is vital that training and development is given critical consideration.


It about building resilience at the present to face the future. For example, McDonalds India has adapted many of its classroom training modules digitally, and introduced e-learning modules, quizzes, masterclasses by managers and many more creative learning sessions, which employees can access on their phone while in lock down at home.


This initiative by the company is aimed to make sure that the team continues to learn and grow even when they are staying home.


Therefore, it is time the MEF leaders advise its members that it is not just about retrenching their staff and depending more on government aid but the importance of doing the right thing in the moment of crisis by providing the right encouragement and vision to move an organisation forward.


Employee engagement, employee welfare, and training and development should be areas of focus. Hopefully, government should help industries to retain their employees, but it has to work both ways.


It is time the MEF rises from its doomsday prophecy. – May 22, 2020.


* Ronald Benjamin is secretary for the Association for Community and Dialogue.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Building resilience should be the focus of the Government



In context of Covit 19 and the economic meltdown, there have been preoccupation among influential segment of society of what could transpire in next few months especially on economy. Questions like when would there be a vaccine for Covit 19, and the rate of unemployment is anticipated. It has been projected that 2.4 million workers will lose their jobs due to MCO. The economic stimulus. package for industries is estimated too just last for 2 months and many companies are assumed to be moving towards bankruptcy.

I have also received information that certain hotels have closed down and retrench their staff because they have embarked on a renovation program. Many organizations have made purely business decisions in winding up by being pessimistic on future business outlook without proper consultation with its stakeholders. This has happened in majority organizations that are non-unionize.

While all type of prediction and retrenchment exercises shows a particular trend of downward spiral of the economy, there is lack of direction by the government of the day on what could be done in the present to face the uncertain future.

The focus of the Government should be on how reduce the burden of Malaysian workers who have lost their jobs, working on sharpening the resilience of business and building of human capital as a way of building optimism in the economy. In this context it is vital for Government to play a proactive role rather continue to merely make pronouncements. There are three vital areas that needs to be the focus of Perikatan National Government which is as follows:




Creating a bi-partisan Task force

As suggested in my earlier write up the Perikatan Government should set up a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to address issues related to unemployment. Captains of industry, unions, and economist should be invited to participate in the dialogue on how to secure business and jobs. The objective is to consider specific kind of help industries need to survive the economic crisis and prevent retrenchment. Many Industries have their own peculiarity and issues that needs to be address rather than one size fits all solutions.




Enhance job support scheme

The Government of Countries like Singapore, Denmark and Australia has heavily pump prim their economy to ensure that workers do not go in the downward spiral of unemployment. For example, the Singapore government as come out with a third economic stimulus package that has enhanced the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) from the previous stimulus package by paying 75 percent on the first S$4,600 (US$3,223) of monthly salaries for each local employee for May 2020. The gig economy workers have also benefited from the broader job support scheme. While every worker and even Directors are covered in Singapore, our gig workers and self-employed are inadequately covered. Our mid-tier companies are not adequately covered in the wage subsidy program resulting some of these industries opting out and retrenching their employees.



Plan to Adopt technology

It obvious that many organizations have fail to go through a proper process before retrenching their workforce. There should have been consultations on cost cutting measures dealing with operational issues and coming up with plans to adopt digital technology and robotics that would reduce the necessity for foreign workers. The Government should work with industries towards this end as matter of building the necessary resilience in facing the new normal.



Training and Development

Training related to reskilling and upskilling should have been initiated. The area of focus should be on the embracing technology besides certifying front line employees to make them professionals. Training facilities should be made available through coordinated efforts of information through the media. More online courses should be introduced as way of learning in the new normal. This would add value to the organizations as it prepares to open up post MCO.



Therefore, it is vital the Government plays proactive role in helping to build resilience in the present by ensuring business viability and Job security in future. The economic recovery would very much depend on consumer spending. If retrenchment exercise is going be severe than economic recovery is going to be a distant dream. The government has no choice but to help industries to survive through aid, adoption of technology and enhancing training and development.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Malaysian Insight :- Up wage subsidies or risk spike in retrenchment


By Ronald Benjamin


THE Association for Community and Dialogue (Acid) is concerned that the Perikatan Nasional government’s aid in the form of the Wage Subsidy and Employment Retention Programmes is not helping businesses retain workers.

This issue was articulated by Yong Poh Koon, honorary adviser to the Malaysian Consortium of Mid-Tier Companies, as published in The Star today.

It is obvious that mid-tier companies, which comprise more than 200 workers, are not benefiting from the said aid. The load seems to be heavy on employers and employees.

According to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers in an April 20 survey, 78% of those polled have retrenched or intend to retrench at least 30% of their employees. Why is there a need to retrench when there is the Wage Subsidy Programme?


The human resources minister revealed that as of May 1, Socso had received 27,222 applications from employers involving 230,652 employees who would claim benefits under the Employment Retention Programme. This figure represents 1.5% of the workforce.

Such a large number of claims shows that a category of employees whose salary is RM4,000 and below has been on unpaid leave for a full month. Socso, which initially came out with a statement that it is ending the retention programme due to a lack of funds, retracted it. This shows there is a financial burden to sustain the scheme for six months, and it is widely debated within Socso.

The question is, are the Wage Subsidy and Employment Retention Programmes sustainable, and will they be able to reduce retrenchment? The answer is clearly no, based on the survey mentioned and the financial strain on companies to pay even half of workers’ salaries due to poor internal and external economic conditions.

This would lead to more unpaid leave, encouraing retention programme claims among those who salary is RM4,000 and below. It would financially drain the programme.

Therefore, Acid urges the government to increase wage subsidies to 50% of one’s salary, and also cover mid-tier companies, not just small and medium enterprises. Our Wage Subsidy Programme is offering a far lower amount than the schemes in other countries, which are offering 70% to 80%.


The economy will not grow if consumer spending continues to be poor, and spending is not possible when there is going to be an increase in claims for the Employment Retention Programme, and if mid-tier firms are unable to afford staff salaries.

There will be an exponential rise in retrenchment if the government fails to top up wage subsidies. – May 5, 2020.

* Ronald Benjamin is secretary of the Association for Community and Dialogue.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Industrial relations have taken a severe beating



First and foremost, in conjunction with Labour day, I would like to extend my solidarity to the B40 community who are made up hospital front liners. garbage collectors, grocery workers, cleaners who have been a vital backbone of the economy in these trying times of Covit 19. They are most forgotten workers during good economic times where they were not recognized through dignified remuneration for their roles in ensuring normality in providing the most basic services to the nation.


It is time the Government recognizes their contribution by giving them adequate training and certification that would turn them into professional service providers. During my time as a Human Resources Minister I suggested the minimum wage to be increased, but we got a lot of the opposition but today these workers are the one who cleaning up, distributing food and ensuring our surroundings are clean.


The Covit 19 pandemic has created new paradigm in Industrial relations in this country. We are living in extraordinary times and that has reconfigured the understanding of employment security. There have been various issues related to employment that has transpired since the MCO was enforced on March 18 2020 that challenges our concept of industrial relations which has been seen merely from a macro-perspective of tripartism.


The Hotel, tourism and F&B and manufacturing industry have taken a severe down turn and currently in the process of laying off or retrenching some of their workers. Workers who are self employed have lost their source of income and there are workers who work with contractors are told to stay at home without any wages. Many organizations have instituted a pay cut or unpaid leave which have been the major concern among workers.


The unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in 2019 during Pakatan Harapan rule, and it could go up to 4 percent currently according to labour analyst. According MIER retrenchment rates could reach up to 2.4 million.


The government has come up with initiatives like wage subsidy scheme with the condition that employers retain their workers for at least six months and employment retention program for those who are fully on unpaid leave for 1 to 6 months. Unfortunately, some employers especially contract for service providers have not opted for this option. It seems that they are in the margins of industrial relations.


In this context there were various questions raised by concern Malaysians that were posted to facebook page before my video presentation on labour issues on 29th of April 2020.


From the question that I receive I notice there are elements of good Industrial relations practices that has been ignored, besides information deficit of how workers could move forward in meeting challenges ahead.


Firstly, there have been an absents dialogue between employer and employees on current situation where decision have been made unilaterally by certain employers to cut salaries or forcing workers to take unpaid leaves.


I am in view labour officers should play a proactive role in the context of law and good conscience to facilitate dialogue between employers and stake holders before any pay-cuts and retrenchment exercises could be done. For example, many hotels have close down leaving their workers in limbo without any transition plans. The fact is many of this organizations have no unions to represent them.






To fill this gap the Government should be proactive in initiating and facilitating a dialogue with all stake holders in an organization that contemplating to layoff or retrenchment of their workers.


This exposes another serious flaw in the training and development vision and plans in our country where workers are not trained to become multiskilled and not easily transferable from one industry to the other. There is need to relook into our training development model that has fail to train the workforce in facing a multi-dimensional labour market.


It is vital to review the HRDF model of training and development, and address the importance of immediate accessibility of institutions of training that could cater to unemployed workers, besides addressing the information deficit where many workers are not aware of programs and options in the market. During my tenure as a Human resource Minister I initiated TVET classes to be conducted in the evening so that people can reskilled and upskill themselves. It is hoped that this initiative could be continued because it would help workers to add value to their organization they are currently or it would help them to easily move into another industry from new found skills.


Therefore, I would like to urge the government to institute dialogue with industries and all stake holders to handle issues related to unpaid leaves and the processes related retrenchment in amicable way for the sake of employers and workers who going through a difficult period of time. The government should do whatever it takes to provide the necessary conditions to prevent any massive retrenchment exercise that would destabilize the nation’s stability. We going to see the possibility of industrial court being flooded with cases if government is not going to proactively address these issues.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A call for policy change and relief measures for undocumented foreign workers in our fight against COVID-19

First and foremost, I would like to thank our unsung heroes – our tireless health professionals around the nation for their hard work and excellent job under the leadership of the Malaysian Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as evident in the recovery rate of Malaysians from Covid-19. 

As of April 22nd, there are 1,987 actives cases which make up a total of 5,532 cases and a total recovery of 3, 452 cases – an amazing recovery of 62.4%. While Malaysia has been making progress with recovery, I deeply empathise with our neighbour Singapore, where the tally there rose to 9,000 Covid-19 cases. 

It was reported that the recent spike in their cases also included 1,369 foreign workers living in dormitories. I fear that Malaysia may face the same fate if matters are taken lightly. In spite of our relative progress there is a concern that we have overlooked the precarious situation of our health care policies in relation to foreign workers that would make it difficult for undocumented workers to be tested for the virus. 

Thus, this leaves us little room for reassurance of real improvement since we have foreign workers – both legal and illegal who are living in our midst that are not eligible for Covid-19 testing. In a crisis of this scale, I believe that it is vital for us to look at the common good and means to contain the virus rather than just holding on to rigid rules that would prove to jeopardize our quality of life more than protecting us. 

It has been previously reported that there are a few million illegal workers in the country which means that there is a large pool of undocumented persons in Malaysia that could potential be at risk or potentially risk the spread of Covid-19. It has to be noted the Home Ministry would be in the best position to know the exact numbers (if any) of undocumented foreign workers.

 This also correlates to the reality of healthcare services in Malaysia which is often inaccessible to migrant workers. At the same time, I understand that there are complex access barriers, many beyond the control of the health sector such as affordability and financial constraints; the need for legal documents like valid passports and work permits; language barriers; discrimination and xenophobia; and physical inaccessibility and employer-related barriers.

 In addition, Government mandated insurance for migrant workers is insufficient in view of the recent increase in medical fees. It is important to note too that language barriers may affect the quality of care received by migrant workers, by inadvertently resulting in medical errors, while preventing them from giving truly informed consent.

 The perceived close working relationship between the Ministry of Health and Immigration effectively excludes undocumented migrants from access to public healthcare facilities. While legal workers would be easier to test since they are registered under the Social Security Organization (SOCSO), the estimated millions of undocumented workers could be hiding with the force of law looming over their heads and fear of losing their freedom once they are tested.

 We must not rest on our laurels and find a way to mitigate the spread. There’s so much we can learn from other countries on their compassionate approach in dealing with the pandemic when push comes to shove. In countries like America there are special relief funds for undocumented workers. For example, in California there is a $125 million Disaster Relief Fund will include $75 million in taxpayer funds and $50 million in philanthropic contributions to help undocumented workers affected by coronavirus secure a one-time payment of up to $500 per person or $1,000 per household.

 In this crucial time, we need to take a different approach by adhering to principles of common good at the policy level to ensure that undocumented workers are tested for Covid-19 without policy limitations and bureaucratic constrains. 

Drastic steps have to be taken to test for Covid -19 all undocumented illegal workers. Unless this is done urgently and immediately a time bomb is waiting to happen! Health is a fundamental human right and there should be a special relief fund to protect these workers from the pandemic. It is the fundamental right of every human being to enjoy the highest achievable standard of health as enshrined in the Constitution of the World Health Organization and principles of equality as stipulated in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

 To encapsulate, Malaysia have a rights-based approach to healthcare in order to contain a pandemic such as Covid-19. This is line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasises on universal health coverage and health equity, and stresses on the importance of “leave no one behind” concept.

 The pandemic has been an eye opener and it calls for us to adapt to universal principles of a healthcare system – one that is inclusive for all human beings.

 M. Kula Segaran
 Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat, 
 Perak National Vice-Chairman of the Democratic Action Party 
 Former Human Resources Minister, Malaysia 
 23 April 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Parliamentary sitting is urgent; cannot be delayed and must be done beyond just a day

We are at war with the inevitable and I know I don’t speak for myself when I say that it’s time for the Government to reconvene Parliament sitting in Malaysia with immediate urgency.

In the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed overbearing stress on public hospitals and its personnel; an increase in job losses of Malaysian workers and migrant workers; increase of complaints on the spike in prices of goods and services; and increase of concerns on whether there is an effective system in place in regards to food aid distribution. We’ve also heard of a number of struggling business establishments that have found difficulty in getting approval from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to open shop due to the flood of traffic on its online portal.

In the context of these emergencies, it is highly regrettable that the Perikatan Nasional government has only allocated a day for Parliamentary sitting and that too, scheduled only on May 18. It is pivotal to keep in mind that Parliament- as a pillar of a democratic system to balance power, pass laws and act and represent the will of the Rakyat – is especially critical now to assuage public fears and ensure swift delivery of resources to communities in need especially those who are undeserved or marginalized.

More importantly, legislatures are an essential line of defence against executive branch power abuse which includes potential abuse of state resources. Above all, there must also be an effective check and balance on the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN); ensuring its effectiveness and delivery. In the face of this unprecedented pandemic, Parliament sittings cannot be construed as a normal proceeding. On the contrary, it should be viewed as a place of solidarity for us to make and take the right measures as a collective; and to mobilise join efforts towards proper and rational mechanisms of aid delivery.

 There is much we can learn from other countries: - Legislatures in Albania, Colombia, Brazil, and the Maldives have adjusted their parliamentary rules of procedure to work remotely and convene virtually. - Members of Parliament in France, Germany, Norway, and Croatia are holding parliamentary sessions, but requiring limited numbers of MPs in the room – all of them abide by social distancing recommendations. - Additionally, legislators in Armenia, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Kosovo are connecting with constituents and sharing updates on Covid-19 through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. How are we – the MPs in Malaysia, empowered to update our constituencies if Parliament does not sit and deliberate on critical issues impacting the Rakyat during this crucial period?

I urge the Pakatan Nasional government to call for an emergency Parliamentary sitting as soon as possible and before May 18 through a virtual sitting that will enable all MPs to air the concerns of their constituencies and convey decisive messages to the people they represent. We are living in extraordinary times that will require us to think out of the box and implement innovative solutions. I – for one, will work with the Pakatan Nasional government to be part of the solution in overcoming the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to the Rakyat.

 M. Kula Segaran
 Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat, Perak
 National Vice-Chairman of the Democratic Action Party
 Former Human Resources Minister, Malaysia
AA 19 April 2020

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How Smart Contracts Could Change the Way You Do Business

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Direct benefit to the workers




The International Labour Organization warned last Wednesday that the economic fallout from coronavirus could cause the loss of up to 25 million jobs. As on last Saturday, Malaysia has reported 1306 cases and ten deaths. Our governments and medical staff are doing their best to arrest this geometrical progression, as seen in China and Italy. The coronavirus crisis is putting on everyone under pressure. At these bad times, job security and job loss is a concern. Some sectors of the Industry is organizing, continue work from home, the however majority will struggle to maintain if the lockdowns are continuing. One of the key sectors is people working in the unorganized sectors, contracts workers and temporary workers. Based on different scenarios, the pandemic could lead to an increase in global unemployment ranging between 5.3 million, according to the most optimistic projection, and 24.7 million in the most pessimistic hypothesis, according to a ILO report.

Temporary unemployment unavoidable and Temporary working access.


Whether self-employed or salaried, workers can go overnight with no money or a significant drop in income. This lack of employment is mainly due to quarantine, which is also very necessary. However, during the shutdown, there should be minimum wages to pay for all workers.

Temporary unemployment will happen and that is inevitable for companies. Companies are in difficulty, and this temporary unemployment can go up from one month to a few months. Companies need special assistance to trigger production. Governments must recognize this problem.

The organizations must take urgent measures to protect workers at their workplace, boost the economy and jobs, as well as support jobs and incomes. Actions require prompt support of social protection and support for job retention. To avoid layoffs and the difficulty of restarting the economy after the epidemic, the government should facilitate access to short-term working.


Protect financial support to all workers while providing direct assistance to employers.


At one side, the government has to take care actions to stop coronavirus epidemic or the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, as well as financial aid to companies and workers. 
The government must ensure that all affected SMEs Organizations must be given with benefits such as direct subsidy, tax benefits, and for workers with a lumpsum grant to each person.

To revive this loss, we need to have comprehensive measures to protect our workers, boost the economy and support jobs. Financial support to the employers will keep the businesses intact. This support can be Tax and monetary relief for SMEs and micro-enterprises, that support employment.

1. The direct benefit to the workers: In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, Govt must provide what is necessary to prevent the loss of jobs and give direct support to workers during these difficult times.

2. Nutrition program: Lot of workers would have undergone, assessment and observations. Nutrition support has an impact .

3. Emergency to reach money to needy: There must be an immediate lump sum and a minimum wage and also to preserve their purchasing power.

4. Access to Test Kits and medical facilities: there is a shortage of test kits and supplies. Test kits and supplies should be available at centres m without delay.

Healthcare workers: 

 

Hospitals, clinics, health workers in particular, are in high demand in the current situation. At this emergency, Hospitals can't employ their staff in compliance with all legal provisions, given their extraordinary workload and limited staff. Hospitals can even call back people retired recently to support the system. They will be allowed as much flexibility as possible and build a huge army of the medical team and supports systems. The priority remains the same: that is arresting the epidemic spread, however ensuring sufficient protection for medical and nursing staff, care assistants and all other persons involved is also critical. They must be well supported for valuable contributions and the extra time they contribute while protecting the rest of society.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Design thinking for who do not think they are creative.

design thinking



Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation. It is a method or a process of global design, centred on the user, to realize innovative services or products. This innovative method has more than 50 years of existence. Now the corporate world is making it as a practice. Without innovation, organizations cannot survive anymore. Whether it is an incremental or radical; innovation is the key to survive. Moreover, change in the business environment is forcing product managers and product/service developers to think new values to consumers

Design Thinking is not about gut feel or intuition. It is not about being creative. It is based on an original method, precise and rigorous to think and solve. This is what allows it to be adaptable to any problem and exploitable by everyone, even those who do not think they are creative.

Your thinking is to learn and apply to:

• Define a problem and create a problem statement
• Organize interviews to get to know potential customers and understand their problem or unmet need
• Explore the problem to develop your understanding
• Generate and test solutions to solve the problem
• Use comments to iterate and improve the solution

Design thinking offers the same opportunity to develop digital tools that capture the imagination of developers, companies and customers. Design thinking can be the catalyst for doing great things. It's not there yet, but it can be if you overcome the challenges.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Self-directed learning


self learning


Traditional education is not always the route followed by some of the most successful people. Some examples of self-directed learners who don’t have a degree are Bill Gates, Henry Ford, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Nowadays, even people with degrees need to continuously keep pace with the new technologies in their industry and self-directed learning is how they do it. There are several habits that you can acquire to ensure that you never stay behind in your field. 

1.    Take the initiative

 

You don’t need others to tell you what learning needs you have; you are solely responsible for identifying which areas you want to enhance. You need to formulate your own goals and choose your learning resources. 

2.    Make your goals realistic

 

In order to stay motivated, you need to set yourself some goals. They must be specific, realistic and time-defined. Self-directed learning is usually done after hours and you will need to make sure that you manage that time correctly and realistically. You cannot learn by cramming the brain in a short time with lots of knowledge, the brain needs time to process information effectively. 

3.    Participation ensures learning

 

Active learning or participation helps you to better understand what you are learning. If your course requires problem-solving then doing the exercises and getting help if necessary, allows you to apply the skills better. If, however, your course requires a lot of reading, concentration, and note-taking are important.

4.    Focus your study time 

 

You need to prioritize your study time on learning the most important aspects of what you are studying. In your spare time, you can brush up on other aspects of the course. 

5.    Motivate yourself

 

Unlike college students who are motivated because of their grades, you will have to find other means of motivation. It could be your next successful venture, or how much you want to be ahead with new technologies.

 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Having peaceful mental health in the workplace


mental health in the workplace


Your workplace may be where you earn your income and create lasting friendships, but it can also be a place of work-related stress. Deadlines, pressure and the fast-paced business world often lead to anxiety and depression.
If work-related stress is left untreated it can lead to problems like increased employee absences, but for some employees, it can lead to them leaving their job and the danger of future unemployment. 

Mental health triggers in the workplace

 

The triggers for mental health can vary, but the most common are:
  • ·       Job expectations and demands
  •      Bullying in workplace
  • ·       Relationship issues with coworkers
  • ·       Performance concerns
  • ·       Insecurity about the job
  • ·       Efforts are not acknowledged
  • ·       Non-recognition of the symptoms of poor mental health

 

How you can improve your mental health at work

 

1.     Communication and support - Talk with a trustworthy person who can offer you support if you are stressed but also friendship. Have a support network away from work too.
2.     Keep active – Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress so make sure that you do so at least a couple of times a week during your break.
3.     Short breaks – These are an invaluable way to destress during the working day. You need to take at least ten minutes every hour away from a computer screen and one longer 20-minute uninterrupted break during the day.
4.     Offer and ask for help – If you can’t cope or don’t know how to do something ask a colleague to help instead of stressing. Help others when they are in need, the benefits to your mental health are incredible.
5.     Avoid alcohol – Non-alcoholic beverages are better for work lunches and functions because they don’t increase anxiety or change the mood.
6.     Meditate – Meditation is a wonderful way to begin or end the day as it prepares you for the day ahead or the evening round of family commitments.
7.     Have goals – Have a list of short and long-term goals and work toward them, crossing them off the list as they are accomplished.
8.     Take up a relaxing activity – While at work you can solve puzzles during one of your breaks, care for the office plants, or make tea for your co-workers; anything that relaxes you.
Employers need to ensure that their employees have access to support.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Building state talent through participation


state talent through participation


Countries have a responsibility to ensure that their young populations, often highly talented and knowledgeable, can make a difference within their communities. Unfortunately, even though their contributions often help to bring about integral changes in the way of thinking and how their community functions, their achievements are often overlooked and they are also often ignored when it comes to the decision-making process.

Today, young people are more at risk of facing unemployment and discrimination, while many also do not have access to valuable education and healthcare. 

What can be done to encourage state participation? 

 

Youth-focused policies globally, and especially within Commonwealth countries, over the last four decades, have focused on helping young people have access to better education and health. Initiatives are focused on making the youth aware of issues such as climate change, human rights, the role that sport can play in development and peace and the importance of education.
Awareness encourages the exploration of solutions and an increased desire to participate in local, national and international governance and organizations. These organizations need to not only recruit talented people but also need to retain them since talented people are head-hunted by businesses too.
Besides offering attractive benefits packages, state participation can be increased by ensuring that employees have the opportunity to grow within their job while also making contributions that are deemed significant. 
Leadership development programs allow managers to see which state employees are capable and in which area allowing for succession planning, ensuring that there is always a talented pool of people for succession as others retire.
Besides the commitment to learn and grow their talent, state employees also need to be offered alternative work schedules, especially if they have young children or care for elderly parents, and to also be able to participate in development programs regarding their professional abilities.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Collaboration skills, the key to success


successful collaboration

Just like in other aspects of our lives, at work, we are required to work collaboratively. As a reliable member of a team, we need to build trust and prove that we can meet the priorities and expectations of the rest of the team. 

In order to do this, we need to enhance our collaboration skills so that we can engage efficiently and productively within and outside our organization. 

The elements of healthy collaboration

 

·       Everyone knows their exact role within the collaborative process and there are clear definitions.
·       Information for the completion of tasks must never be withheld and that requires open lines of communications at all times.
·       Goals and methods for completing tasks must be agreed upon by all members before moving ahead with them.
·       All contributions must be acknowledged and credit must be given where it is due.
·       Obstacles and problems must be identified immediately and resolved as a team.
·       Even the leader has to place the goals of the group above any personal recognition as collaboration is all about team effort.
·       Collaboration can easily be destroyed by grudges and other misunderstandings so apologies should be forthcoming as should forgiveness.

Essential collaboration skills

 

There are a number of skills that are essential for successful collaboration:
1.     Communication is not always as easy as it seems. It requires that we pay attention to verbal and nonverbal signs and to only respond to the issues at hand. It is all about perspective sharing and not about imposing viewpoints.
2.     Emotional intelligence helps us understand the hidden needs that can be addressed to allow better collaboration among individuals.
3.     Open-mindedness and respect for each other are essential since team members are likely to be from all walks of life.
4.     Understanding how to use collaboration and productivity software so that all team members can participate, even from afar, and they make for easier message and file sharing within teams.