More Government Hospitals to be built in Malaysia

The Ministry of Health, Malaysia had received approval to build 11 hospitals in 2013. These are located at Parit Buntar Hospital (Perak), Shah Alam Hospital (Selangor), Tampin Hospital (replacement), Rembau Hospital (Negeri Sembilan), Bera Hospital and Rompin Hospital (Pahang).

The others are the Kuala Krai Hospital and Bachok Hospital (Kelantan) and Lawas Hospital, Petra Jaya Hospital and Sri Aman Hospital (Sarawak).

According to the Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya,  "Out of 140 Government hospitals throughout the country, 14 including Kuala Lumpur Hospital are categorised as state hospitals, 26 as major and minor specialist hospitals, 66 as non-specialist hospitals and eight as special medical institutions."

The Minister added that the construction of a health clinic for the district at a cost of RM25 million is expected to start in 2014.

He said the Health Ministry aims to reduce the doctor-population ratio to 1:400 by 2020 from 1:700 now.

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Innovation - the road to sustainability

Ideally an innovative spirit must be built into a Company's DNA. This will lead to aggressive and consistent  business growth, job creation and even ensures that the business is sustainable for many more years into the decades ahead. The Company will definitely be the envy of many competitors.

The word "Product Innovation" is often tossed around and many understand that "Product innovation is the lifeblood of company growth" BUT how is this been translated into a working plan? Is there an innovative mentality, process and culture built into the work team? If not, why not? If yes, has it stalled?

If you do not know how to proceed, get professional help for your Team. Teach and train. Drive the culture beginning with the top management down to the floor operators. Build this into the Company's DNA!

As a starter, there are a few basic pointers that I would like to share:

1) Visit trade shows/exhibitions/seminars/read trade magazines: Many overlooked that there are many rich ideas out there. Make a point to visit at least one big global trade show a year.

2) Know your customers: Walk the street. "Wear-out" the soles of your shoes. Meet your customers. Spend time with existing and prospective customers. Ask questions. Listen to them. Hear them. Any inputs, positive or negative, will be an opportunity to build a better and creative business.

3) Team Empowerment: With empowerment, there is an atmosphere and spirit of challenge without any fear of "failure" or "risk" as these would be inherent in the daily business processes. The Team would be innovative, creative and willing to bring any seemingly "wild or crazy" ideas, concepts, proposals to the table for discussion, experimentation and development.

4) Office & Reward Performance Environment: It must be conducive and with relevant tools and facilities available and feely accessible. There must also be a recognition and reward process in place.

5) Roll out the Product with speed: Once the product is  tested and ready, roll it out to the market speedily. Your competitors are not going to wait for you as they have their products as well. Be open for feedback from customers. Reviewing and rework the product with any input received quickly. This will keep you ahead of competition. Change when change is necessary. Keep an open mind.

Finally ... you will definitely see business transformation with growth acceleration ...

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Malaysia: Growing & Ageing Polpulation

PETALING JAYA: In about 30 years from now, Malaysia will have 38.6 million people and it is expected to be a growing older populace.

Many in the year 2040 would be aged 36 and above, according to the National Statistics Department’s (NSD) Population Projections 2010-2040 document. Malaysians would also behaving fewer babies while the annual growth rate would decline from 1.8% in 2010 to 0.6% in 2040.

“The population aged 65 and over is projected to increase more than three-fold of the 2010 population. This will lead Malaysia to become an aging population in 2021”. Senior citizens (65 years and above) are expected to be 11.4% of the population, or 4.4 million people – three million more than in 2010.

It said the number of children (0 to 14 years) would hover around the 7.8 million, while the potential workforce (15 to 64 years) would shoot up from 19.3 million in 2010 to about 26.6 million in 2040. “The working age population would have to bear the increasing number of older population,” it said.

Even with the declining fertility rate, the NSD predicts Malaysia to have a much more Malay-centric society with an expected 20.8 million people by 2040 – 6.5 million more than 2010. Malaysia’s other races were, however, projected to grow very slowly, with other bumiputras, Chinese, Indians and other races growing by 1.8, 0.7, 0.4 and 0.2 million people respectively. This would mean that the Malays would take up 54.1% of a 2040 Malaysia, with minorities decreasing.

Malaysia is expected to break the 30 million mark next year.

Source: theSTAR 29-07-2013


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Asia is NOT a SINGLE market

Lately there were numerous enquiries made by foreign Companies wanting to gain market entry into Malaysia. When Companies made such enquiries, I believe they are not only “eyeing” Malaysia but the region as well.

Asia is indeed the fastest growing market economy of the world. It is also touted as an increasingly important engine of growth. It is estimated that by 2030, Asia’s economy will be larger than that of the United States and European Union combined with the region’s share of world GDP swelling from a little under 30% closer to more than 40%. China is expected to grow 7.5% in 2013, while India is forecast to show 5.5% growth - way below levels both countries are used to. The growth rate in other Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are expected to range between 2.7% and 6.8%.

Asia is not homogenous economically and culturally. It is characterised by a wealth of socio-cultural diversity with ethnicity, languages, religious values and practices. Its business practice, corporate governance, ethics, attitudes and behaviours are also different from the west. Foreign Company, especially from the west, must understand that each country is sovereign, independent and governed differently. Each country is also at different pace of development and growth. Asia does not, and is not “one big homogenous business bloc”!

For any Company wanting to gain regional advantage, the key success factor is to understand Asia and to cultivate and strategically leverage local partnerships. Collaborative business partnership, creating new sources of value for Companies, customers and communities and building new value networks, resources for innovations and growth opportunities are the motivation and incentives for business success.
Thus there is complexity in cross-border trading and business growth within Asia.

Data source: IMF Survey, Reuters Economic Report, July 2013

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Foreign Market Entry

I had dinner with 2 friends recently. The Company which they represent was founded after World War 2 and has the distinction of being the first to produce injectable medicines making it the pioneer for the prescription market in the country concerned.

The second generation, in the mid-2000's, took over the management of the Company. Success was built upon success and today, from my understanding, the Group is now one of the top leading pharmaceutical Companies in the country.

In natural corporate growth and development, the Group is now looking beyond its shore, into different geographies, though some of the Group's products are already present, albeit small market shares, for some of these market economies. For further expansion and growth, the Group has to have more affirmative actions to establish its' footprints in the region and beyond.

In my mind, assuming that the market had been identified and selected for entry, and, depending on the appetite for risks, there are numerous approaches for foreign market entry, setting aside entry barriers like regulatory and legal requirements, for the time being, which will be addressed separately.

My immediate response, though not exhaustive, would be 1) to identify and appoint a local partner as agent to import its potential products into the country. The agent will initiate product registrations, possesses resources for sales & marketing including logistics in warehousing and distribution. It is important to motivate and incentivise the agent with an attractive "Gross Margin" to ensure the agent's interest is sustained 2) the risk in establishing a "full sales & marketing team" in its initial market entry carries high risk. I believe that the "learning curve" must be learnt prior to committing such an investment into a matured market  3) Instead of the ethical products, especially generics, unless they have unique USPs, where competitors are already "killing one another in the "red ocean", do consider the "non-ethical" products for market entry 4) For high volume, bulky liquid and competitive priced products, consider local OEM as there is a strong possibility of price advantage. 6) Purchase or Joint venture with a Manufacturing concern in the target market? This would be too "quick and drastic" unless there is an "irresistible buy" and it helps its existing manufacturing capacity or strategic business plan in the region. This is also dependent on its desire for "speed to market entry". 5) Malaysia, a PICs country, can offer a credible platform for any Company to be a launch and trajectory pad to the other countries as well. This is because, from feedbacks, the Regulatory Authority in Malaysia is known, in the international arena, for its "best in class" approvals for product registrations.

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Goal setting must be SMART, when I was told to draw up a Marketing Plan for Product A. I was then a Product Manager in an MNC.

Very logical and reasonable. So, what is SMART Goal? I learnt that SMART is a acronym for:
  • S= Specific
  • M= Measurable
  • A= Achievable
  • R= Realistic
  • T = Time bound
Thus a Goal must be specific and not general eg Product A must achieve 10% "Asthma" inhaler market share - NOT Product A must have10% market share.
Further, it must be measurable otherwise if we do not have the knowledge of the market it competes in how can we measure? Do we have the skill and means to measure? Do we understand the market?
Is 10% market size achievable or attainable? If not, why not? Further, if Product A is a "late-comer" to an existing competitive and matured market where there are already more than 10 competitors, is 10% achievable? Are there adequate resources like A&P and manpower in place to support the sales activities?
Is 10% realistic or relevant considering that there are already more than 10 competitors, despite the resources that the Company intends to "put in"? Or should the resources be allocated for other programs that may yield better returns etc Or should we redefine the market share to 5% or more if the Company agrees to proceed with the promotions for Product A?
Finally, to achieve the 10% market share, there must be a defined timeline otherwise there is no agreed deadline to achieve the goal. 
Thus, SMART Goal would finally be with clarity and time bound, and will read like this: "Product A must achieve a 10% Asthma inhaler market share by end December 2013". Well defined goal that leaves no room for ignorance, doubt or misunderstanding!

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Energy in the Workplace

How do we get our staff to give their best to the Company?

There were three workers in a factory stitching a well known brand of ladies' hand bags. When the first worker was approached with the question "what are you doing?" He replied "I am earning RM 100.00 a day stitching". The second person said "Stitching the leather together". And the third person proudly said "I am making a branded hand bag so that people will be willing to pay for it".

Which of these 3 workers would you think will look eagerly to the finished work with personal satisfaction and pride? Or which worker would react, and would like to set it right, if a small corner of the leather were found stained and flayed .

Your answer would probably be as good as mine. The first worker would properly ignore it. The second would probably notice it and report to the superior whilst the third would probably fixed it.

How do we create more of the "third worker" in the work place? Let's get back to basic.

Workers, including each one of us, bring along to our work place the physical energy. This energy enables us to work using our physical strengths. Then we have the mental energy, which is the brain work that involves thinking, planning, talking, problem solving etc. Along with these two energies come the emotional energy that helps to keep a person's physical and mental faculties running in momentum to achieve the work for the day. The last but very important energy is the " inner energy". This energy drives and energises the person from within with a strong sense of purpose, vibrancy and a "can-do-and-never-tire-spirit". This energy is powerful and even a boring and mundane job will spring to life and long hours of work will be completed without any sign of  weariness! This energy will drive the finished work to perfection and give the worker a sense of pride in the finished work!

Thus, the quality and speed of work output depends on the degree to which all four forms of these energies are being aligned and engaged in the work place. Leaders and Managers must therefore learn to engage their colleagues in their respective business units where these energies are being productively and efficiently harnessed and directed.

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Angry with your Banker?

"Be a friend to your Banker." I shared this with one of my friends who is the CEO in a Pharmaceutical Company. Lately he had been irritated by his Banker. After all the businesses that he had given to the Bank, it charges him for every small transactions and services that he needed to be done.

I put forward to him that other Bankers may be doing the same with their respective customers. If they do, there is nothing he can complain about. I believe that under the banking fraternity, and the practices governed by the Central Bank, there is nothing unusual in what the Bank does.

Thus, stick to his existing "one and only" Banker. There is no advantage in bursting into tantrums and desiring to change his Banker. It does no good. He will run out of Bankers if he is to "jump from Bank to Bank" whenever there are issues that arise occasionally.

The Banker will definitely extend special privileges to its customers that it values and appreciates. Thus, "make sure that you are one of the appreciated customers instead!"

I advised him to initiate, cultivate and grow the friendship with his Banker. And surely, I believe, the working relationship would be strengthened to his desired advantage.

I also believe that every business entity should have at least 2 different Banking Institutions for business facilitations, financial services and advice. If the business is into different geographies as well, I would advise appointing a local and foreign Banking Institutions to facilitate its business.

Having a great working relationship with the Bankers is a basic requisite in business. However, not many business men are appreciative of the advantages in doing so. Therefore, take time to reflect ... and take the relevant action.

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Crocodile Story - a light banter

I was browsing through a newspaper when I came across an article, which I reproduce herewith for your reading pleasure, to break your boredom as well as for learning of which the learning is of my own interpretation.

Once there was a billlionaire who had a collection of live crocodiles. He kept them in a pool at the back of his bungalow.

The rich man also had a beautiful daughter who was single. One day, he decided to have a big birthday party for the daughter.

During the party, he announced, "My dear guests, I have a proposition to every single man here. I will give a million dollars or my daughter to the man who can swim across this pool full of crocodiles and emerged unharmed!"

As soon as he had finished his last word, there was a sound of a large splash.

The guests all turned to see a man in the pool swimming as fast he could. They cheered him on as he kept swimming. Finally, the man made it to the other side of the pool unharmed. The rich man was impressed. "My boy, that was incredible! Fantastic! I didn't think it could be done! Well, I must keep my end of the bargain. Which do you want, my daughter or the one million dollars?"

The man replied "Listen. I don't want your money nor your daughter. I want the person who pushed me into the water!"

Oh, what a laugh. However, ponder a while. Are there any lessons to be learnt here? A few I can think of.  First, you do not know what you can do until you are being pushed. Thank the person. You now discover your talent. Secondly, take the reward and ask question later otherwise you miss an opportunity. Third, be thankful that you are alive and remember that there is always danger lurking around, even when you are among friends. Fourthly, don't stand near the pool or anywhere else that expose you to be in the frontline when you see a challenge - unless you want to position yourself there by choice. Finally, be alert wherever you are ... (anything else?) ...

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Entrapment - Apathy, a disease

Apathy. I would define it as the "lack of interest in or concern for things or willingness to take up challenges that others find moving or exciting".

I am sure that many of us, in one way or another, has experienced "apathy" in our work environment. Common catch phrases are "we have done this before, it doesn't work", "why try? Management has rejected this many times", "give up, its useless, they are not going to listen", "same old story again, why waste time?" "I told you it is too time consuming and it will fail!" "nothing new" ... Many are also not aware that if this culture is not arrested, it will breed and has life on its own. It will develop into a culture or behaviour norm within an organisation. Any new person coming into the organisation, without knowing, will also be absorbed into this negative climate.

Do understand that "apathy" can be leant as well without you knowing. This is called "learned apathy". The person sub-consciously store in his memory negative past experiences, or other people's negative experiences in the organisation. He will then apply or regurgitate in his present or future work challenges. He has "learnt" to resist new work procedures, processes and challenges. What he experienced or heard in the past now dictates how he is reacting. He is trapped! Pour soul!

If key leaders in an organisation manifest this in the work environment, it spells disaster! This negative behaviour must be quickly arrested if business is to continue to be sustainable and profitable.

How do we remedy it? First, it must be identified and recognised that "apathy" is a disease. The organisation must be restored to a healthy state of innovation, creativity, resilience and growth. Secondly, the leaders must accept that the disease exist. The organisation must be willing to embrace changes and work towards a renewed mind-set. Thirdly, the team must resolved to "let go" of their apathy in order to move forward.

The team must be willing to learn, unlearnt and relearn. The game plan for change must be taken immediately, if not yesterday!

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Choosing Leadership Style

In my mind, there are basically 2 important types of Leaderships viz Authoritative and Participative

Authoritative/Autocratic Leadership:
Many of us would have experienced managers using their authority in telling their employees what to do. This leadership style would not inspire employees to be innovative and creative in their work place. Employees would have to comply as been told. They do what they are being told and no more. They are not expected to deviate from the instructions or guidelines given. They soon learnt to put in their time but not their energy. They produce but they do not put in their best effort to perform. Their work output are mediocre only to meet the minimal standards so as not to be penalised. They lack interest and have no concern for quality, change or creation of opportunity. Like programmed robots, mindlessly and mechanically they are busy. Nothing much can be expected other than the expected results. Thus, this leadership do not inspire nor motivate employees to perform extraordinaire'. This leadership style is normally only appropriate for production lines and routine work processes. Or when a new employee joins the organisation or when there is an evacuation emergency to be followed!

Participative leadership:
It provides greater opportunity for upward and lateral communications. It is not unilaterally downward as in authoritative leadership. Participative leadership encourages open flow communications. It is more personal than positional power. Personal power is that which a leader possesses because of his own knowledge, skills, interpersonal and communication skills. In contrast, position power is that which is being conferred on that person by virtue of his position by the higher authority.

Thus under participative leadership, people will want to perform because they "want to". They are driven by their inner energy and they enjoy their work. They put in effort and time. They innovate. They initiate, embrace changes and create opportunities. They are proud of their contributions and output. They perform more than expected. The advantages of having this leadership are that it allows opportunity to build second tier management and provides an environment for dynamic growth for the employees and the organisation.

In conclusion, both these styles have their respective places in leadership management. Leaders and Managers must know and understand when to embrace each of these, or a mix of both, in their respective organisation growth and development.

In a High Performance Organisation, Participative leadership is the way forward.

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Medical Device Regulations 2012 effective 1st July 2013

The Malaysia Medical Device Regulations 2012 comes into effect today, 1st July 2013. It is to ensure that manufacturers of medical devices adhere to set standards. Medical devices would be given two years to register with the Medical Device Authority. Companies dealing with the devices, including manufacturers, importers and distributors would be given a year to apply for licences from the Ministry.

Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) chairman Hitendra Joshi, who is based in Penang, said the standards under the Medical Device Regulations would help Malaysia be recognised as a reliable producer of medical devices in the global market. “It would help attract foreign direct investments with increased market confidence,” he said. AMMI secretary S. Balasubra­maniam said the regulations would also enable more joint ventures with foreign companies.

AMMI comprises 45 member companies which collectively account for more than 50% of the country’s total export revenue for medical devices. The industry recorded sales of RM6.5bil last year, based on the AMMI’s survey on 67% of its members. According to the survey, Malaysia’s medical device exports last year totalled RM12.9bil, with RM5.9bil coming from AMMI members. The association expects exports to increase to RM13.7bil this year.

Medical gloves and catheters made up RM9.8bil of the total value last year while instruments for medical, surgical and dental practices, electro-mechanical devices, contraceptives, ophthalmic lenses, radiation devices and orthopaedic implants made up RM3.1bil.

Most of the companies producing theses products are located in the Northern Corridor Economic Region covering Penang, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, besides in the Klang Valley and Iskandar Malaysia in Johor. Malaysian-made medical devices were mainly exported to Asia Pacific countries, Japan, United States, Canada and Europe ( Source: the STAR dd 01-07-2013).


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