Thursday, 23 February 2017

ROAD SAFETY - Inculcating awareness as part of culture

Criticism is important for social engineering, but at the same time it is also the easiest thing do to, particularly when is done in hindsight.
It is common that when a tragedy occurs, we quickly assign fault to a particular individual or authority, then we move on believing we have done something meaningful by virtue of our comments alone.
Traffic accidents on Malaysian roads haverisen to around 450,000 annually since 2010. Studies also indicate that 80.6%of accidents are a result from human error.
In the tragedy involving the loss of eight young lives onthe roads of Johor Baru last week, we saw numerous perspectives on the cause of the accident. Fingers were pointed at the children, the driver, the parents, law enforcers and even the education system.
While these points may be valid, we need to rise beyond this finger pointing and ask ourselves, as a society, what can be done to reduce, oreven better, prevent such tragedies from occurring?
It is obvious that human error can no longer be addressed through human blame and shame. Furthermore, they are merely reactionary, not pre-emptive.
Common wisdom says that the fabric of society is constructed upon the threads of individuals. Any ideology that defines a culture or society heavily depends on the buy-in of its citizens on an idea or belief. This meansthat there are principles that are whole-heartedly accepted, and some not tolerated.
The level of tolerance of unsafe behaviour now becomes the standard in question. Are we setting high standards of safety consciousness on ourselves? Do we tolerate unsafe behaviour of others?
Taking a few examples of Malaysian driving habits, it is very common to see indicators not being used. Unfortunately, that many of our motorists accept this as a norm – is seems to be the Malaysian way.
Another example is the number of cars tailgating each other on Malaysian highways. It has become a norm to be within inches of the car ahead. Everybody seems to do it, so there should not be a problem.
Many advanced societies define their societal maturity by how they behave on the roads. The worldview towards safety is simple –preventing accidents is allowing ourselves and others ample time to react. Due to this, the population understands the reasons behind the numerous safety rules taught to us, both at school and the driving academy.
When our children are exposed to safe practices, perhaps they too will follow our examples. Behaviour is not something we can teach by telling, it has to be shown and demonstrated continuously. We can no longer behave only for the law enforcers, but we behave because we believe in theright principles.
As a member of the automotive industry, we are working tirelessly to ensure that vehicle technology can reduce human error. However, we have to live the fact that even the best technology can never replace highstandards of safety awareness.
My deepest thoughts, condolences and prayers go out to thefamilies of the recent tragedy in Johor. I hope that as a society, we do not forget that more lives will be lost if we ourselves do not practice and helpcreate awareness among our fellow Malaysian that safety is paramount – the bestway to save lives is never to reduce injury, but to prevent it altogether.
“All it takes is that one moment we couldn’t react in time.”
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

TOWARDS ADVANCED STATUS - Need for mature discussions, critical thinking

Up to approximately two decades ago, the mainstream media, both print and electronic, dominated the nation's information airspace, making it virtually the only source of knowledge regarding current events and trends.
When a pertinent issue or event takes place, field experts or journalists with reliable sources covered the story, and accurate facts and credible perspectives were presented to the public.
While it was easier to establish clearer and guided directions in national development, information was often one-directional, and often resulted in a top down approach in implementing steps towards progress.
With the introduction of the internet in the mid-1990s, the popularity of blogging and online news portals created a disruption - the emergence of alternative media sources.
This allowed for a broader coverage of events, as the cost and time barriers to transmit information were reduced significantly, allowing the public access to increased participation in the discourse that took place in comments sections.
However, the realities of this information overload allowed anybody to play the role of the journalist, without necessarily needing to follow its professional codes of ethics.
Today, social media channels have allowed even more instantaneous feedback on anything published - both in formal channels or informal forms of conversations and discussions.
However, with instantaneous feedback, also comes the issue of self-filtering, i.e. the separating of accurate news from misrepresentations becomes the onus of the reader.
This is now the conundrum faced by all governments around the world.
As a country still on its way towards advanced nation status, we depend on a society with a high level of creativity and innovativeness.
These qualities are produced most efficiently through freedom of thought and diversity of perspectives - often it this very diversity that breeds strong policies and ideas to progress forward at a global level.
With that said, while governments strive to ensure productive discussions taking place, it also is highly dependant on public maturity and discretion in contributing to such discourse.
To achieve this, society needs to rise above the muddled cloud of information and be able to distinguish differences between fact and fallacies on their own.

While focused reading now becomes a basic requirement, it must be coupled with the ability to think critically, objectively and structurally.
The above traits need not be reserved for those with special talents or high levels of sophistication. One of the ways to develop higher order thinking is to surround ourselves within circles where such discourse takes place.
The best lessons in life often are not limited within the boundaries of the classroom, but from experience gained through exposure to the right materials and environment. It is for this very reason that fresh school or university leavers are encouraged by employers to learn as much as they can - so that with their fresh perspectives permeate with the experience of others to become better ideas in the future.
In fact, we are encouraged to participate in activities outside of our work, such as conferences, exhibitions or even visits to further expose our minds to the practices of other organisations, and not to limit ourselves only to the cultures of our inner work circles.
To engage a high gear in our national progress, it starts with developing a critical mass of individuals with such higher order thinking. These individuals form communities, which then build critically thinking societies.
In short, we must all understand the power of information, but there is that caveat - true wisdom is a product of critically processing of accurate information.
"Knowledge has power to control access to opportunity and advancement".
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Industrialised nation depends on well-informed society

Malaysia now stands at the final stretch of achieving industrialised nation status by the end of this decade. As a nation, we have come a long way from our roots as a former colony, with agriculture and raw materials as our sole source of income.
For the last three to four decades, we have ventured into numerous high value sectors, including the automotive industry - that has bred full-fledged local car makers capable of designing and developing cars from scratch, and the large ecosystem of vendors, dealerships and service centres to cater to the growing techno-economy.
Today, we are prepared for the next phase of advancement. Our industrial foundation has prepared itself for higher level capabilities through strategically placed infrastructure and a technologically diverse talent pool.
The government institutions have enhanced its delivery service to bring rapid capacity enhancement to businesses and citizens alike. Our education system is producing a significant number of researchers and graduates.
Numerous articles in this column have discussed the global phenomenon that is Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution. At the core of this phenomenon is the massive traffic of data, which are transferred, processed and interpreted into useful information, knowledge and wisdom.
However, with increasing ease of access to this huge amounts of information, comes the high risk of information anxiety and misrepresentation.
While technology increases the amount of data that can be processed over a time period, human ability to keep up with the massive amount of data is unfortunately limited.

Conventional philosophy has long dictated that societal maturity is the foundation of an advanced nation. The basic benchmark for reaching such levels is the information, knowledge and skills possessed by its citizens - the citizens must be well read, fact driven and articulate in their ideas, with minimal bias and objectivity.
The advent of the internet, especially social media, has created an environment where there exists such high risks mentioned above. The high traffic of information that we can access, in fact algorithmically pushed on us, may cause us to spend less time on focused reading, and more on superficial browsing of a wider array of information, causing distorted analysis and misunderstanding of issues.
Our own personal online networks, which often are similar views to our own as a natural consequence of human social norms, have strong potentials to create cognitive bias and shield us from access to different perspectives.
As the world moves through its next revolution, the societies that intend to participate must also elevate itself above misrepresented information and data that risks stifling true progress.
While the freedom of information and thought is highly encouraged, we must educate ourselves and our young ones about the dangers of fake news and malicious information.
That can only be done through cohesive and continuous efforts to inculcate reading, analysis and mature discussion on issues pertaining to societal progress.
At Malaysia Automotive Institute, we are continuously striving to create an environment that facilitates intellectual discourse, through our social media channels, online portal as well as direct discussion with in our open space in Cyberjaya.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite all stakeholders, including the public, to voice out your opinions and questions to us, so we can understand each other's views and develop innovative solutions for the betterment of our nation.
"The bests ideas are often products of great intellectual disagreements"
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

AUTO INDUSTRY - Globalisation paves way for new opportunities

It may not be apparent, but the nation’s industrialisation drive has paved the way for new opportunities for businesses and individuals operating within our borders.
The Malaysian automotive industry was set up back in the 1980s to spur technological capabilities. The holistic vision was not merely the ability to produce vehicles and their subsequent components, but to prepare the nation for a high level of design and manufacturing prowess and the ability to produce virtually anything.
The complexity or products and processes within the automotive industry prepared us with the mentality, training and skills to approach any heavy industry with structured scientific and engineering methodologies and thought processes.
Fast forward four decades later, we have hundreds of parts and component manufacturers supporting more than 25 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Our vendors have specialised in numerous processes – plastic injection, metal stamping, casting and forging, welding and assembly.
These components are produced while meeting the strict standards set on safety, reliability and quality of global manufacturers.
As these vendors also rely on their own suppliers, they are also required to develop their own supply chain to the levels that are expected by their principles.
This large supply chain has created a sizeable pool of talent that meets the high standards.
Most importantly, our local capabilities in design and development are gaining momentum. Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) recently joined Proton as the second OEM to design its own models in-house, seen in the launch of the Perodua Bezza last year.
At the vendor level, an increased productivity of 24% was seen among companies participating in MAI's Automotive Supplier Excellence Program (ASEP) in 2016, with more than 100 companies possessing either in-house product or tooling design capabilities, or both.
The earlier parts of this series discussed extensively the new norms of the global economic order.
At the heart of the discussion was a realisation that even at the global stage, economic tides are shifting due to change in political and socio-economic tides around the world.

With that in mind, now is the best time for our industry players and talent to brave the borders of international trade and globalised industry.
The government has been working towards more bilateral and multilateral trade deals. Most recent, is the strengthening of economic ties with China, worth US$160 billion (RM708 billion) this year.  
Although received with numerous sensationalist polemics, this development has been a result of Malaysia's continuous commitment and participation to global trade in the ASEAN and Asia Pacific region.
The point of this closing article is simple - looking back at the automotive industry's achievements over the past four decades, we have come to a point where our capabilities have reached a level where we are able to push our boundaries.
It may be daunting and difficult, and perhaps along the way it will be viewed cynically, either by others, or even by ourselves.
However, the automotive industry was created to allow us to participate in high value business and processes, and as the approach is the same, it has positioned us to venture into anything of a similar, even simpler nature.
I believe that with the hard work that we have put together, and the opportunities we have created in current times, is the recipe for success at the global stage.
It only requires self- belief and courage to embrace the change needed to penetrate global borders.
If we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting for the rest of our lives.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute. This is the third and final part of a series of articles in embracing change on the global stage.
Read the first part of the series articles here:
Read the second part of the series articles here: