CYBERJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today gave a stinging appraisal of work ethics among Malays, saying it was a problem he had faced even before becoming the prime minister.
He said when he was the education minister in the 1970s, some among his staff would leave for home as early as 3pm, giving the excuse that they wanted to beat the peak hour traffic.
“This is not the way. When we get a job, we must deliver our best.”
During his premiership, Mahathir was known for his punctuality. Three months after succeeding Hussein Onn as prime minister in 1981, he introduced the punch card system for government departments, in a move to increase productivity and work discipline among civil servants.
Mahathir today said he admired the Japanese for their work ethics.
“The Japanese worked hard to change their country which was so poor after the war. They’ve rebuilt it into a rich country.
“They did it by working hard and being ashamed of failure.
“It was their culture that enabled them to change the future direction of their country,” said Mahathir, whose Look East Policy made Japan and Korea as examples to follow in order to achieve the developed nation status.
He also questioned the number of public holidays in the country.
“We even have four days’ leave in a row. When a holiday falls on a Sunday, we get the Monday off,” he said.
“I do not even agree with holidays on Saturdays. We have not reached the status of a developed country. We should be working harder than the developed countries so that we can catch up with them.
“If you are chasing someone who is in front of you and you are running slower than that person, can you catch up? Of course not.
“You need to run faster, but all we have are holidays and that’s all we want, yet you expect to succeed. It’s impossible.”
Singling out the Malays in his speech, he said poor work ethics in the community meant Malaysia could not progress.
“We are lazy when it comes to work. We will always look for the easy way out and if we can, we will get someone else to do our work.
“It’s not because we can’t but because we don’t want to. It’s a commitment problem. We want to work less but earn more,” he said.
He said due to this, the Bangsa Malaysia concept as envisaged in his Vision 2020 could not be achieved.
“We still think there are races out there who are superior and we relate better with those countries. We need to stop linking ourselves with those countries and focus on ourselves.
“Right now, the process to create Bangsa Malaysia will take much longer.”