My Space: Change, please!

Place: The picturesque Taman Rekreasi Lembah Kiara in Kuala Lumpur’s popular township of Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Day: A bright and sunny Sunday morning with the crisp air punctuated by the gentle humming of birds. 
Date: June 13, 2010
Time: 8am

A motley assortment of individuals, friends and families go about their walks, jog or stretch out tired muscles. Some, it seems, would rather exercise their jaw muscles.

At one spot, a group that’s not-your-regular aerobics enthusiasts (read mostly middle-aged and above aunties and uncles) gather, grumbling under their breath while waiting impatiently to sweat it out.  The aerobics session, by the way, is a weekly activity initiated by Kuala Lumpur City Hall that has found a strong following from those staying in and outside TTDI.

The wait drags on for a good 15 minutes — and all because the music man is late again. If such tardiness is unacceptable, guess what the City Hall staff on duty had to say in response to the delay: “Ini percuma … ” In short, why complain when it’s free? FREE?

And what does this episode have to do with real estate, one might ask?

The 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) unveiled on June 10 made it crystal clear that change is imperative. But a successful paradigm shift in strategies and policies, on its own, will not be sufficient to elevate the country to high-income status.

The backbone of the five-year plan is the implementation and delivery system, the quality of which will make or break Malaysia’s aspirations for the plan’s lofty annual growth targets of 6% from 2011 to 2015.

While the powers that be and their generals painstakingly plan the tactical details to take on the challenges ahead, those in the rank and file of the civil service must stay on the same page. They must be told so in no uncertain terms or be requested to get off. Too much is at stake — the future of the country and that of our generations to come.

Conducting an activity like an aerobics class is a no-brainer. While there is no room for half-hearted efforts, what’s worse is when a civil servant is okay with the delivery of sub-standard service. It is outrageous that the rate-paying rakyat is expected to accept it without a whimper.

Greater Kuala Lumpur is put under the spotlight under the 10MP. It is one of the 12 national key economic areas (NKEA), with   specific targets and concrete actions to drive economic growth.

Expect billions of ringgit to be poured into the system to facilitate and stimulate the  growth of the economy.  Nothing must stand in our march towards these objectives, certainly not indifference on the part of those in the civil service. As we do our best to attract FDI and tourists, we have to make sure that our house is in order.

As employers in the private sector will say these days, good is no longer good enough. So, where does that leave performance that is clearly below par?

To be fair, not all civil servants under-perform. The Ipoh City Council must be applauded for its very professionally organised and packed aerobics session every Saturday and Sunday. Ipoh folk have every reason to feel proud as hundreds of them get together in the open air and sway to the beat of music in the name of aerobics.

Back to the park in TTDI, did I mention that when the music finally came on, it was all crackling and disjointed? And while it has been the practice to halt the aerobics sessions during the fasting month, it is something DBKL may wish to reconsider in the spirit of 1Malaysia.

Au Foong Yee is the editor of City & Country, and haven, the bi-monthly interior design and gardening magazine published by The Edge

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 811, June 21-27, 2010

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