(Delivered at the closing ceremony of the AARRO Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March, 1993)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
As President of AARRO (Afro-Asia Rural Reconstruction Organisation) for the next three years, I would like to tell you some of my opinions on few subjects that might be useful for us in our efforts to develop individuals and organisations in our countries towards the discovery of new opportunities for our people in the pursuit of a better quality of life for the underprivileged in the rural areas.
As far as the development of individuals is concerned, despite being of different religions, cultural backgrounds and political system; and despite being from different continents, we recommend certain values that have been propagated by our Honourable Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad at a leadership lecture on January 1, 1992, as values relevant to all.
These values have been tested over time in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It is hoped that with these correct values, individuals in all the member countries of AARRO can improve their performances and the quality of their lives.
The five values that our Honourable Prime Minister introduced in his leadership lectures are:
· Diligence and
It is unfortunate that in developing countries, particularly, among the poor, the degree of trustworthiness in diminishing.
Without being trustworthy, it is difficult for any programme to succeed.
We have to, all the time, ask our people whether we will be more trustworthy tomorrow than we are today; or will it be that with more power, with more wealth and better position, we become less trustworthy than we were when we did not have all those excesses.
We also have to inculcate discipline in ourselves. We have to do things the right way according to certain acceptable rules and principles, within a certain period, just as in prayers, by the Muslims, we have to perform, at a certain time, and in a certain way.
It is obvious that wherever we have extreme poverty, we also have extreme indiscipline.
Discipline, however, is also lacking among people living in prosperity. It is only in those countries with leaders at all levels who are able to carry on in a disciplined way can we succeed in doing anything great at all.
It is, therefore, necessary for our people to keep on asking whether we are more disciplined today than we were yesterday, or whether we will be more disciplined tomorrow than we are today.
The next value is courage. Whether in a democracy or in other systems, it is always the lack of courage among leaders, or among individuals, that eventually rocks the society. There is a saying that goes, ‘The world will go the dogs when good people do nothing.’
All the time in our society, we will see programs failing not so much because they are ill-planned, but because we do not have people with enough courage to tell those who are implementing them that they have gone wrong.
It is not only in implementation of the programmes that we need the people with courage, but also we also need people with courage in all walks of life at different levels in society. It is, therefore, necessary for us to keep on asking whether we are braver today than we were yesterday or we will be braver and have more courage tomorrow than today.
Diligence – hard work, is one of the tenets required for the success of any program. It is, therefore, very important to work hard.
The harder one works in the right field, the better will life be. It is wrong for us to try to train our people to be prosperous without work, to be enjoying themselves without effort.
In Islam, we celebrate ‘Idul Fitr’ after fasting during the month of Ramadhan. We do not celebrate ‘Idul Fitr’ before we go on the month-long fast. It is, therefore, necessary that we suffer first, sacrifice first, so that we succeed in the future.
Loyalty is the fifth value. Loyalty seems to fade with extreme wealth as well as with extreme poverty. It is, therefore, necessary for us to continue to teach our people to be loyal to what is good and not to deviate from what is good because of changing circumstances.
That is all I wish to say on the development of individuals. I would like to turn to the conditions for the successful development of institutions. I am borrowing these principles from a book written by a Professor for his wife who was elected to be the Head of the Wives’ Organisation of the University.
Since the Professors’ wife is unfamiliar with running an organisation and had no leadership experience and knowledge, the husband had to go on leave to write a book entitled, ‘How To Run Any Organisation.’
I am sure books written by husbands for their wives are the best books to read.
How to Run Any Organisation
We have organisations in our country such as the Farmers’ Organisations and the Fishermen’s Organisation. We have co-operatives and political parties. You, too, have all types of organisations in your countries. Organisations, however, will not work unless they fulfil the five principles for the success of any organisation.
I have tried implementing those principles and it has worked in my present Ministry and in the previous Ministries where I have served.
The first condition for the success of any institution is to understand authority. It is important for leaders of all organisations to know and remember where their power base lies. If leaders in organisations do not know or forget where their powers come from, then they will forget the groups they have to serve which have given them those powers.
We are all here today in AARRO because our Governments have agreed to be members of AARRO and because our Governments think well of AARRO.
In other words, it is the performance of AARRO that will decide whether our Governments continue to stay in AARRO. When we are here, we know that we have been sent by our Governments to ensure we take the best from AARRO for implementation in our countries. Members of AARRO and AARRO itself must remember this.
The next principle for the development of any institution is communications. If AARRO has done many good things over the years, then AARRO must be able to communicate.
Since we are far apart, we cannot meet like this often, and with AARRO lacking its own radio and TV stations or newspapers, we have no alternative but to ensure that our members know what is happening through other means.
I do hope members of AARRO, when receiving minutes and reports, will read them, will study them very closely and will try to understand them so that we are conversant with what AARRO is doing. AARRO should also communicate what it is doing to non-member countries to inculcate interest in becoming members of the organisation.
It is no good for us to expect a country to be a member of AARRO first and only then tries to know what good AARRO is doing. It is necessary for us to select some good literature on the activities of AARRO and disseminate them to people with power to decide in each of the non-member countries.
I believe that if all the good work that ARROO members have done for their respective organizations are made known to non-member countries, more countries might want to join and benefit from the body.
We have also to identify whether the people who receive our circulars and our brochures are empowered to make decisions in their countries, and we must also be aware whether our contact in each country is dropping out of favour with the Government in power in that country. This political sensitivity on our part will ensure that AARRO will grow from strength to strength.
The third condition for growth and success of any organisation is productivity.
Looking at the way the Secretary-General participates in the Conference, I have no doubt that he has the stamina… and I believe with this stamina and with the co-operation of all in the Secretariat and among member countries, we will see more quality programs in the future; and the future of AARRO will be brighter as we go forth.
The fourth condition for organisational success is morale.
Being productive, AARRO will continue to have many programs. The programs must have higher percentage of successes than failures. There is no point in having too many programs if most of them fail.
For morale, it is better to have a few good programs, that succeed and succeed well. I believe that AARRO, having done very well in the past, will continue to do very well in the future.
For high morale, there should be high motivation among members of AARRO. Each Conference of AARRO must be able to motivate the participants by upgrading their level of acquaintances to that of friendship and not just as fellow delegates.
I do hope, even when we are no more representing our countries in AARRO, we will still remain friends. I will be waiting for your New Year Greetings or whatever greetings you might send while you and I are in or out of office. I will also remember you as much as I hope that you remember me and the other Vice Presidents and the Secretary-General here.
Let us hope that this gathering will not only end up with the reports, but will end up with closer friendships among all of us present here.
The fifth condition for institutional development is change. We must be prepared to change. If there are programs that we are running which are not bearing fruit, we might as well stop.
If we feel that there are other new and better programs implemented by others that we need to adopt, we might as well adopt. We should look at other countries, countries that have better programs, even countries that are not so progressive but have some projects that are extremely good. We should copy, we should learn to copy from others. We should not be too proud of ourselves as not wanting to learn from others.
Futurists agree that the definition of a developed country in the future will be a nation that has less than 20 per cent of the working population in agriculture. A developed country in the future will have less than 20 per cent of its population in the manufacturing sector; about 30 per cent of the working population will be in the knowledge sector and the other 30 per cent in the service sector.
With the reduction of work force in the agricultural sector, increasing production, is made possible by biotechnology and bioengineering.
The manufacturing sector will have less percentage of workers although production in the manufacturing sector will increase to cope with demands. This is made possible by robots.
There are factories in Japan where the rate of production of robots is one robot per robot per day. Each robot produces itself faster than it takes for a human couple to have a baby. Robots will, therefore take over from humans some of the routine manufacturing work.
Computers will enable the growth of knowledge industry. In future, it is possible to have a university on two-acre piece of land with 50,000 students.
The students need not stay on campus, they need only to have videos, telephone, fax machines and computer terminals linked to the university’s data base.
In the past, for 50,000 students to have 50,000 telephone links, we would have needed five log-size copper cables.
With the discovery of optic fibre, it is now possible to have one thin optic fibre to channel 50,000 messages simultaneously to various terminals.
Knowledge is the future’s big industry. Of course, with less farm work, more robots and computers, people will move less. When there is less physical activity, the population will become more sickly. There would be a need for more parks. More health farms will sprout everywhere and vitamins and medicines will be in greater demand.
The women of the future will no longer be confined to the kitchen – even in developing countries. There will be more fast food outlets and restaurant chains to cater for people who will opt to eat out.
There will, of course, be other expensive restaurants for people to go once, twice, of four times a month or once a week, and not only on weekends, to enjoy themselves with families after living on fast food for daily meals. We must be ready for these changes.
The third subject that I want to touch briefly is the discovery of opportunities. During my 19 years as a Member of Parliament of which 15 years as Deputy Minister, and later, as Minister in charge of the rural population in agriculture, there is no other way to increase our people’s income except by developing marketable skills for the production of marketable goods and marketable services. Besides being lucky, there is no possibility for us to increase income otherwise.
Quality of Life
The fourth subject is the promotion of the quality of life. It is important for leaders in developing countries to concentrate on fulfilling the need of each part of our body to have a balanced life, a life we can describe as being healthy and of quality.
The poor in countries where polygamy is possible, tend to have more than one wife. Does that really bring better quality of life? It does satisfy their bodily needs.
There are also other needs that we have to satisfy. We have to satisfy our eyes with beautiful things, with landscaped surroundings, with beautiful flowers – colourful and scented.
We have to satisfy our ears with good music and humour… not useless talk. We have to satisfy our noses with good scented plants and good scented flowers. Our palates must be satisfied with halal tasty food and drinks. Our body requires health, our minds need peace, faith for our heart, love for the family, knowledge and motivation for all.
This much I have to say, in summary, of the need of our people, based on my experience as a man who had been poor, born of a poor family and as a person who, twelve years ago, was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the rural population as Minister of National and Rural Development and as Minister of Agriculture for the last six years.