Will Idris Jala please return the millions?

— Gomen man
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 08, 2011

AUG 8 — So the turnaround specialist, or best thing to happen to Malaysia Airlines, did not do such a good job after all.

But Datuk Seri Idris Jala pocketed a few million short of RM20 million when he left Malaysia Airlines to become the Najib administration’s transformation czar.

This money was either a bonus or compensation for his glorious achievement of “turning things around” at MAS. I am sure major shareholders at MAS — Khazanah Nasional and EPF — will be happy to enlighten Malaysians on this reward scheme.

That is the problem with us Malaysians; we are so quick to praise people and put them on a pedestal. We called Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a reformer early on and look how that turned out. We still didn’t learn.

We swallowed all this 1 Malaysia rubbish and thought that Najib Razak had learnt from Abdullah’s mistakes. It looks like Najib is following Abdullah’s path of self-destruction.

A few years ago, we couldn’t stop gushing about the wonderful job Jala did in turning around MAS. By definition, turn around implies some permanence to an organisation’s change in fortunes. It must entail more than just cutting costs and cleaning up the books.

As blogger Sakmongkol 47 noted in his succinct commentary, it doesn’t take a genius to do asset stripping (selling the buildings, aircraft, etc), showing a clean accounts. But what about making meaningful structural changes to the way MAS operates? How about changes to its business model?

Put it this way, can Idris Jala be considered a success if the “system and personnel” he put in place collapse a couple of years later, and collapse spectacularly.

Would you consider Alex McLeish a success at Birmingham City just because he won the League Cup only to see the club relegated a few months later?

I am sure Jala is a nice chap but his success at MAS was oversold. He just papered over the cracks at the national airline.

Now he is being touted as the man to transform the Malaysian economy. I am sorry but I am not buying the hype because I have seen the evidence of his transformational skills.

He may be the best person in the Malaysian Cabinet but that is not saying much, like the one-eyed man being the king in the land of the blind. My gut feel tells me that, a couple of years down the road, we will find out that Malaysia is still not a high-income economy but pretty much addicted to foreign labour.

Only difference is that we would have a big budget deficit.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 12:28 pm

    //Only difference is that we would have a big budget deficit.//

    Standard and Poor will then downgrade us to EEE, where our living standard is standard and poor.

  2. #2 by dagen on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 12:40 pm

    Malaysia not high income enough? Hah, wrong there idiot. As a matter of fact we could well be as rich as the americans. How much are the americans earning today? Huh? Per capita, basis? 47,000 USD (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita) Big deal. And malaysia? 8,000 USD (source: ibid). Now this is a large size deal. The real deal. Let me tell you people why.

    Per capita debt in america is wot? whooooa a whopping 45,000 USD! (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt.) So what is the per capita income of an ordinary american? 47,000 USD? Noooo!. It is a mere 2,000 USD (after deducting national debts).

    Hah, and us? Our per capita national debt is only 2,700 USD (source: ibid). That means, after debt, our per capita income is (yes yes yes) isssss tadaaa ta tadada 5,300 USD.

    Vote umno people! Jib Jib boleh!

    (slap) (slap)

    “Oi, bangun!”

    “hah?” “Apa tu” “Apa tu”

    “Aaaahhhh” “Jangan tidur lagi. Bising betul”

    … another sweet sweet dream of jibby jib.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 1:37 pm

    “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi
    IJ knew corruption, had practised it n benefited fr it; hence, he, a practitioner, is sure dis nation is on its road 2 bankruptcy
    Now a nonMalay is 2 helm MAS, how can 1? UmnoB n Perkosa will protest what

  4. #4 by limkamput on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 1:48 pm

    You see, since the beginning of time of this nation, nincompoops in government have always thought there are simple solutions to complex problems and there are simple explanations to complex issues. So, we attribute the rapid development of this country to Mahathir’s ill conceived privatisation and crony capitalism which the people till day are still suffering from it. We do away with regulations and procedures in the name of facilitation when the actual intent was corruption. When the government is incapable of solving any problem, what it does is to appoint consultants to come up with colourful power point presentations that enlighten no one but making us believe that something is being done. How many of our ministers have read through a paper or penned one himself/herself on national issue? Now the PKFZ case is being heard in court. I wondered what the contributions of other ministers were when the matter was discussed in the Cabinet. When the police needs Idris Jala to tell them that street crimes are running out of control, I think the whole country has probably suffered long enough of this already. The solution is not to come up with NKRA or KPI on street crimes. The cause of the problem is the police do not know their work and the solution is to kick them hard on their back.

  5. #5 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 3:11 pm

    All the money went to the pockets of the many so called ‘consultants’ and ‘experts’ , people who supposedly were top brains at Oxbridge, Harvard and the like.

    Frightening part is these goondus are still around advising the government on many ‘earth shattering transformation projects’.

    Transform into what time will tell.

    We are doomed for sure.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 5:10 pm

    It is doomsday for BN…for sure.
    The more they apply all sorts of bully tactics…the more they try to twist and turn..the more they try to find scapegoats like the Christians..,and the more they try to fool each race by different kinds of dirty racial and religious tactics…they will not work now…after BERSIH 2.
    As you can see…even Queen Elizabeth 11 knows what’s going on.
    BN Big Boss have in coming out of his own actions and nonsense.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 5:13 pm

    Was advised by moderator not to use Big Boss name.. to get my messages approved!!
    Guys take note!!

  8. #8 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 5:30 pm

    all these baXtards who made big salaries and yet mismanaged the airlines or national corporations should be sent to death sentence. How can be believe that there are no better people around to manage these big corporations? It is simply Umxo who suck our blood out of these corporations

  9. #9 by mendela on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 5:45 pm

    And the Bastaxd Joker face Munir stayed on as Chairman of MAS until recently?

    Remember the MAS infamous Flying Buffet ?

  10. #10 by mendela on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 5:47 pm

  11. #11 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 8:51 pm

    Did Idris Jala take his bosses for a ride? He probably did but the real problem was his bosses were idiots in the first place.

    I have never understood the idea of making Idris Jala the head of Pemandu or part of the Cabinet. The fact he was showed his bosses had the wrong idea what he did at MAS.

    What Idris Jala was a general management trick using financial engineering. He NEVER put the company who was facing in an industry and market facing cathartic change, on a long term strategy. In every persentation I have seen, he never really said he was. All he said he was working on one.

    That is why it came as a surprise to me that Idris Jala made it to Cabinet and Pemandu later to try and fix fundamental structural change needed in this country. It only added my suspicion that Najib was all PR, not real change because he did not get it that was what Idris Jala was doing and could only do.

    Why are we so surprise of Idris Jala work given who his bosses are?

  12. #12 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 10:26 pm

    Not being privy to what Idris Jala did or did not do, I think it may not be fair to lay all MAS woes at his feet.

    MAS has been around for quite awhile and must have developed a less than desirable organizational culture given its many financial problems in the past.

    Like many GLC’s it has been set up not for commercial reasons alone. It also has to meet its social obligations to the NEP agenda. Compromises and “iron rice bowl” mentality has been deeply entrenched all these years and it would not be easy for one man to come in for a short period and change this mindset overnight. The best strategy, organization or best idea in the world are only as good as the people in that organization to understand the spirit of those strategies and implement them enthusisatically and effectively. Going through the motions will do more damage than good. We can have a rough idea of the quality of the people when some senior MAS managers have been known to spell the word “piece” as “peace” . I have also seen first hand supposedly experience MAS staff, who works in an international company, unable to differentiate the different cities with similar names in the US.

    But I agree with the writer that Idris Jala would very likely fail again in this new responsiblity leading the transformation program. The reason is simple. He has to work with a bloated Govt bureacracy that has been well brainwashed by the likes of BTN, riddled with rampant corruption, the heavy dominance of one race that has bred inefficiency and lack of competitiveness, etc etc. Similarly there is little his one man show can do if the Govt machinery that has to provide the critical support has other ideas.

  13. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 9 August 2011 - 11:38 pm

    Don’t cheer just yet! There is no guarantee, this NON is going to fly straight. With the Commsioner at KLSE today, any figures can be churned out. I still think this is a rip-off!
    Everyone is running away from the SINKING ship; grap all you can! The sign is high above in heaven!!

  14. #14 by asia on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 - 7:46 am

    What they called CEO actually it like coordinator work between company and consultants, they don’t know how to run that company from bottom to top effectively?

    Their mindset are these are opportunities to make millions trying hard to find how to make millions dollar from these companies/opportunities even it need to go bankrupt.

    Like some of their old mindset culture because what they are they demand the government will treat them specially out of competition like VIP even the country no money.

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