Wrong to attribute Kula for predecessors’ work — Ramallingam a/l Balasubramaniam

MAY 23 — I refer to the the opinion piece, Kula, the HR Minister we need, and here’s why, published in The Malay Mail on 10 May 2019.

With all due respect to the Silicon Valley returnee writer, Mohd Firdaus Ilham, the attribution to Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran on the latter’s supposed good work in the Ministry was misplaced. With only a year in office and almost zero public administration experience, Kulasegaran could not have become a super Human Resources Minister, the way Mohd Firdaus made him out to be. 

First, the writer talked about the importance placed by Kulasegran in promoting technical and vocational education training (TVET). It is true that many advanced countries like Japan and Germany had prioritised TVET and Malaysia is doing the right thing by following suit.

But this is not something new. The country’s oldest vocational institution, the Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuala Lumpur was established in 1926. Ever since, there’s been a mushrooming of technical and vocational institutions in Malaysia. 

If Kulasegaran had been seen to be promoting TVET more than his predecessors, it is definitely not something done by default, rather than design. As automation and Industrial Revolution 4.0 creep up on the global economy, ignoring the development of technical skills would have been economically suicidal. There’s really nothing to shout about for a Minister to tread on the right, safer path, as opposed to a treacherous one. Do you congratulate your Grab driver for not crashing the vehicle and keeping you safe? It is the least one can do!

Mohd Firdaus had also praised Kulasegaran for attending a May Day rally organised by the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress. This is the first time a Human Resources Minister attends the event in decades, supposedly in recognition of the MTUC.

Is the writer aware why previous Ministers had stayed away from the MTUC gathering? Surely ALL of Kulasegaran’s predecessors couldn’t be so insensitive by turning away from the national umbrella body for trade unions, who represent workers’ welfare, in the country? Couldn’t Kulasegaran’s predecessors have partaken in political theatrics by showing up, just for a few hours once a year? Or do they know something that the first-term Minister did not?

Mohd Firdaus was either wilfully ignorant or naive. The MTUC was made out to be the true custodian of workers’ welfare. Those in the know may disagree. In fact, the changing labour landscape means less workers are unionised as the number of freelancers rise in tandem with market needs. Perhaps the newbie Minister is not aware of this rising trend or oblivious to MTUC’s true motives for the May Day rally invitation?

Mohd Firdaus had also listed a litany of human resources policies that Kulasegaran supposedly will introduce. Let’s be real. These policies, whether on gender equality or combating workplace sexual harassment are not new. They had been brought up by previous Ministers in the past.

It will be foolish to think that a new Minister will have the time to settle in to the demanding job AND come up with visionary ideas that will transform human resources landscape in less than a year. Credit must be given to Kulasegaran’s predecessors and the bureaucrats who had their fingers on the pulse of the country’s human resources needs.

Besides, Kulasegaran would have needed more time to settle in into the new job, especially tip-toeing around political sensitive issues. His gaffe while campaigning during the Rantau by-election about asking Indians to support an Indian candidate and only dine in Indian eateries shows he still has much to learn.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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