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Tony Fernandes: Change is important

 | August 13, 2013

Air Asia founder believes Malaysians enjoy being "spoon-fed" by the government and "do not like change".

KUALA LUMPUR: Tony Fernandes believes that most Malaysians rely on the government too much and are not susceptible to change.

The Air Asia Group CEO said today that organisations – whether political or private companies – need frequent change in leadership in order to progress.

“The problem with Malaysia is that when people stay too long in their positions. They think they’re invincible,” Fernandes said today at Pemandu’s Global Malaysia Series LIVE here.

“Organisations need to refresh, whether it’s political or a company. Letting go is important to ensure there is strong succession planning,” he added.

Fernandes said the difference between governments and private companies is that the latter easily adapts to change.

“If somebody (in a company) screws up, we change them immediately,” he said.

“We got to have people that can adapt to change. Malaysians don’t like change,” he reiterated.

Fernandes also urged the public to speak out when they feel that they are being marginalised.

“Don’t moan about not getting help from the government and say ‘Pemandu is not doing enough to help the people’, go out and do something about it,” he said.

“Don’t just complain behind their backs,” he added.

Government should stay out of businesses

The founder of Tune Group also believed that the government should “facilitate business” and “not be involved in them”.

“At the moment, we have civil servants sitting on the board of GLCs (government-linked companies). The big fear is that the government will get more involved in businesses,” he said.

Fernandes said the country “needs to be honest with itself” and acknowledge constructive criticisms, especially on a global level.

“We should embrace change and we need to be honest with ourselves; and where are we in the global league in transparency and accountability,” he said.

“Take education for example. We got to make sure that we are producing the best students to remain competitive. But I’m not sure if we have improved. That’s why honesty is important,” he added.

Pemandu – the Performance Management and Delivery Unit – of the Prime Minister’s Department CEO Idris Jala agreed with Tony, and said it was important the government does not interfere with as well as encroach upon businesses.

“I agree with our role to facilitate (businesses). We have since identified 33 GLCs where the government must play down the stakes,” he assured.

Idris went as far to say the government should pull out completely from companies where their expertise and services are not required.

He named the exceptions as: strategic regions, such as defense; large infrastructure projects; and technology, as he claimed the private sector “has no stamina to go into research and development”.

“The Malaysian government should get rid of stakes where it shouldn’t be involved, unless it has to.”

Earlier last month, Pemandu openly acknowledged the results of Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer Survey and “takes this on as a further impetus to push for more radical reforms under the Anti-Corruption NKRA.”

The GCB findings also identified political parties and public officials including parliamentarians as most corrupted.

“The survey clearly shows what we have done is not enough. We need to intensify efforts and continue to push for improvements across the social, political and business arenas,” said Pemandu’s Anti-Corruption NKRA (National Key Results Areas) director Ravindran Devagunam.

He added that for increased transparency and accountability by ministries, the Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report will be tabled at every Parliament sitting instead of just once a year.

“We hope that this Performance Audit Report will get tabled either at this sitting of Parliament or at the latest, the next sitting,” said Ravindran.

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