1. I was in Tokyo recently to participate in the celebration of the 30th year of the Look East Policy. Some 15,000 young Malaysians were educated or trained in Japan during those years. Strangely I have not heard anyone of them complain about the policy or their participation. They all seem to be happy with their experience under the Look East Policy.
2. There must be at least a few who may not be happy. But I have not met them.
3. They all seem to be employed and a few have started their own businesses in Malaysia or in Japan. Some are married to Japanese girls.
4. I would like to claim that the Look East Policy was good for Malaysia. Those trained under the programme seem to have imbibed some Japanese characters and values. Actually the Look East Policy was not so much about getting Japanese investments or technologies as it was about learning Japanese work ethics and the discipline of the work place. I believe strongly that the success or otherwise of a person, a race or a nation is dependent on their values, their work ethics and their discipline when doing whatever they have to do.
5. In 1961 when I went to Japan for the first time I observed their diligence and dedication in the work of rebuilding their nation. It was already 16 years after the near-total destruction of their country but there was hardly any trace of it. Everywhere I saw people busily constructing new buildings, everywhere I saw cement-mixer trucks being driven to worksites and back to the mixing plants.
6. I did not see any foreign cars but their cars did not look so good. What struck me most was their behaviour when there was a collision. The drivers came out, bowed to each other and then drove off. What happened after that I do not know.
7. Hotel workers did not accept tips but their service cannot be faulted. Japanese hotel staff, including managers, line up to welcome me upon arrival and to wave goodbye when I leave even after I cease to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
8. I was familiar with Japanese products before the Pacific War. They were shoddy and breakdown easily. When a Japanese exhibition ship came to Singapore during my student days, there were crude jokes about scratching the paint off their cars and finding the “Milo” label underneath.
9. By the time I went to Japan, the quality of their cameras and motorcycles could not be questioned. They were superb. So were their watches. Japanese brands had become the mark of quality.
10. Since 1961, I had visited Japan very many times and I was amazed at their progress and the speed with which they demolished their old reputation for low quality. And I wished we in Malaysia could be like them.
11. Everyone knows about “hara-kiri” or “seppuku” the Japanese practice of ritual suicide when they failed in whatever they were tasked to do. When Japan lost the war thousands of Japanese soldiers committed suicide.
12. I thought at first that this Japanese practice was quite inhuman and uncivilised. Then I realised that the Japanese have a strong sense of shame. When they fail they consider it so shameful that life was not worth living.
13. They do not commit hara-kiri now but some of their Ministers would resign if something wrong happened in their ministry. They would accordingly try not to fail in their work.
14. I noticed the quality and fineness of the handmade bamboo products. I believe that this is the result of their trying to avoid feeling ashamed of shoddy work.
15. I think that is why the Japanese produce such high quality products we are familiar with today. Their cars are of the best quality. Really they are as good as the top German cars. In fact in many ways they are better. And I believe this derives from their desire not to be ashamed of their work.
16. Japan is far more secure than most other countries in the East or the West. We don’t read reports of people being coshed in the parks or dark streets. Certainly burglary is not as common as it is in Malaysia.
17. Cleanliness is almost a fetish in Japan. Young school children would not throw rubbish on the road. They would carry whatever they wanted to get rid off until they find a rubbish bin. Japanese employees with ties on can be seen watering and sweeping the pavements in front of their shops. No Malaysian would do this, certainly not with their ties on.
18. Japanese factory workers often arrive early at the work place to discuss with fellow-workers their target for the day. They regard the next shift as their customers who must be served well. They would clean up their work-bench before going off, so that the next shift can start work immediately. They are constantly trying to improve their products. They call this “kaizen”.
19. They have workers unions but they seldom go on strike. Certainly we do not hear of a general strike which really is a political act. They remain loyal to their company for life.
20. In return the company looks after the workers. Until lately they do not sack their workers, preferring to reassign them if the company did not do well or the workers have become unproductive.
21. In recent years they have abandoned this practice. The sacked workers feel so ashamed that they refuse to go home to their families. During the recession the unemployed workers would erect huts of blue plastic in open spaces or wide road dividers and live in them. They would go around collecting tin-cans to shape them into toys to sell for a living. This is something that you do not see anywhere else. The unemployed always expect to be on dole provided by Governments. I have not seen destitute tramps in rags in Japan as I have seen in many Western countries.
22. The Japanese really work hard. This one single character contributes the most to the success of individuals, society or nation. They are not laid back. Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation, tells in his book about how the Japanese worker was willing to be paid with a ball of rice with soya sauce in the early years after the war. That willingness must have contributed much to the recovery of Japan and high pay that Japanese workers enjoy now.
23. Working hard may not mean working smart, but certainly it is much more productive than not working or being laid back.
24. Watching the Japanese and their progress over the years convinced me that adopting their work ethics and the discipline of their work place would do the same for Malaysians and Malaysia.
25. And so hardly a year after becoming Prime Minister, with the authority vested in me I proposed the Look East Policy. Many in my cabinet the administration and the public questioned the wisdom of this policy. Many said why copy the copier; why not go to the source of modern industrial civilisation. But enough accepted the novel policy and so the Look East Policy was adopted and implemented.
26. I believe it is a success. At the Tokyo forum organised by Nomura Securities, Nikkei and Khazanah, the talk was about the future strategies and form that the Look East Policy would take. But whatever, the one single most important aspect of the Look East Policy is the development of a value system, a work culture and ethics that is compatible with success. And among them should be the cultivation of a strong sense of shame when delivering results which do not give pride to the person, the people or the country. This feeling of shame will make us work hard to deliver the best in everything that we do. That is the essence of the Look East Policy. May it continue for the next 30 years at least.
by : Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad – Prime Minister of Malaysia (1981 – 2003), chedet.cc
These skills give us physical pleasure, and I do not mean by this the pleasure of the Hereafter only. Rather, it is that pleasure one actually feels in this world. So enjoy these skills and practise them with the old, young, rich, poor, near or far. Use these skills with them in order to guard yourself from their harm, to earn their love, or to rectify them.
‘Ali bin al-Jahm was a very eloquent poet, but he was a Bedouin. The only life he knew was the desert life. The Caliph, al-Mutawakkil, was very powerful. People would go to visit him and return with whatever they wished. One day, ‘Ali bin al-Jahm entered Baghdad and it was said to him, “Whoever praises the Caliph is bestowed with honour and gifts.”
‘Ali became excited and went to the Caliph’s palace. There he saw the poets reciting their poems in praise of the Caliph and returning with gifts. Al-Mutawakkil was known for his authority, awe and power. ‘Ali began to praise the Caliph with a poem in which he likened him to a dog, a goat and a bucket, whilst other poets likened him to the sun, the moon and the mountains!
The Caliph became angry, and his guards unsheathed their swords and prepared to strike off his neck. But then, the Caliph realized that ‘Ali bin al-Jahm was from the desert and that his personality and poetic taste was shaped accordingly. He decided to change his personality, so he ordered his men to house him in a section of the palace, be treated with kindness and be given all the available pleasures.
Al-Jahm tasted some of these bounties and sat on couches side by side with eloquent poets and authors for seven months. One day, as the Caliph was sitting in his nightly gathering, he remembered ‘Ali bin al-Jahm, so he sent for him. When al-Jahm finally came to him,he said,“Sing some verses to me, O‘Ali bin al-Jahm!” Al-Jahm began to move emotions using soft and kind words, and likened the king to the sun, the stars and the sword.
Notice how the Caliph was able to change Ibn al-Jahm’s personality. How often have we been upset by the bad behaviour of our children and friends? Did we ever try to change their nature successfully? Even more, you should be able to change your own personality by replacing a frowning face with a smiling one, re-placing anger with forbearance, and miserliness with generosity. None of this is difficult,but it does require determination and persistence, so be brave!
Whoever reads the life of the Prophet realizes that he would deal with people with these skills and capture their hearts. The Prophet would not simply pretend to have these skills in front of people and replace his forbearance with anger when being alone with his family. He was never one to be cheerful with some but sulky with his own family. He was never one to be generous with everyone except his own children and wives.
Rather, he always acted naturally. He would worship Allah by his fine manners just as he would worship Him by offering the Duhaor night prayers. He would consider his smile to be a virtue, his gentleness an act of worship, and his forgiveness and leniency a good deed. The one who considers good manners to be acts of worship will always remain well-mannered, in war and peace, when he is hungry and when he is full, when healthy or ill, and even when happy or sad.
How many women only hear about the refined manners of their husbands, such as their patience, cheerfulness and generosity, but never witness any of these qualities at home? Such husbands, often when at home, are ill-mannered, impatient, sulky and constantly cursing.
As for the Prophet, he said,
“The best of you is the one who is best to his family. And I am the best of you to my family.” (al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Sahih)
Now read how he would deal with his family: Al-Aswad bin Yazid said, “I asked ‘A’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her how Allah’s Messenger would behave in his house. She said:
‘He would be serving his family, and when the time for prayer would come he would perform ablution and leave to pray.’’
The same can be said about parents. How often is it that we hear of the good manners that some display, such as generosity, cheerfulness and kind behaviour towards others, and yet with the closest people to them who have the greatest rights over them, such as their parents, wives and children, they are distant and cold.
Yes, the best of you is the best to his family, to his parents, to his wife, to his servants, and even to his children. One night,as Abu Layla – may Allah be pleased with him – sat next to the Prophet, there came to him, either al-Hasan or al-Husayn, so the Prophet lifted him up and placed him on his stomach. The toddler then urinated on the Prophet’s stomach. Abu Layla said, “I saw the urine trickling down from the Prophet’s stomach. So we leapt up to the Prophet, but he said: ‘Leave my son alone. Do not scare him.’”When the toddler had finished urinating,he called for some water and poured it over his stomach.’ (Ahmad and al-Tabarani, with trustworthy narrators)
How amazing was the Messenger of Allah to train and adorn himself with such manners! No wonder he was able to win the hearts of the young and old.
Instead of cursing the darkness, try to fix the lamp.
Source : Dr Arifi, Enjoy Your Life