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Friday, April 23, 2010

Adopt work ethics of the Japanese

I REFER to your report, “Najib invites Japanese to invest and reinvest in Malaysia” (The Star, April 21) in which our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his acceptance speech on being conferred an honorary doctorate by the University of Meiji was reported as saying that Malaysians must give up their “lebih kurang” attitude and adopt “precision” to be a competitive nation.

Japan is a highly precise nation and this quality has helped them in their development of science and technology. Besides their penchant for precision, there is also in them a firm commitment to excellence – to be “dai ichhi” in whatever they do, a passion to be the very best.

There is a sense of urgency in whatever they do. Despite the fact that commuter trains leave their stations every minute, you see Japanese commuters half running in order to catch the earlier train.

This may appear odd to Malay­sians going to Japan for the first time because we think that if we miss the earlier train, there will always be many more coming after that.

The Malaysians there too will soon emulate the Japanese as they will feel odd walking leisurely while others are half running. Such an attitude of urgency will soon permeate our work and will be reflected in the sense of urgency in all that we do.

However, when these Malay­sians return to Malaysia, they will feel odd and conspicuous half running to catch a train while all others are walking leisurely.

When I was attached to a research institute in Tokyo in the 1970s, I was impressed by their work ethic, punctuality, focus and commitment to work, their spirit of teamwork and co-operation and a readiness to share knowledge, skills and expertise among the staff.

During working hours, it is strictly work and any conversation during working hours (including telephone conversations) is strictly work-related and to the point. All social conversations and small talk were strictly confined to tea and lunch breaks.

Malaysians who have the opportunity to study and work in Japan as part of their training should, besides bringing back knowledge and skills, also bring back the work ethic and attitude and implement this at their workplaces here. They should not allow such practices to backslide and deteriorate, especially when newcomers are joining their organisation with the “lebih kurang” attitude.

M. GANESHADEVA,

Kuala Lumpur

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