‘The Malay Leadership Mystique’ authored by Dato Dr. Vaseehar Hassan bin Abdul Razack is a pioneering and exploratory work to understanding the qualities of Malay political and business leadership. The book is based on Dato Dr. Vaseehar’s PHD research and it unearths among others, the reasons for the lack of success of the Malays especially in the economic activities of the Nation.
The Man Behind The Book
Dato Dr. Vaseehar Hassan transitioned from a 30-year career in banking and finance to executive coaching and organizational development. Currently, he serves as an independent director on the boards of several local and foreign companies and conducts executive coaching through Ket de Vries Institute, London where he is a Senior Associate.
Dato Dr. Vaseehar Hassan is also the Chairman and Co-founder of Zilzar, the first global Business to Business (B2B) Halal e-Commerce platform connecting Buyers and Sellers. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Masters’ degrees from Aston, HEC and INSEAD and a Ph.D from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
Driven by his innate passion for knowledge and inspiration to contribute to the betterment of society, Dato Dr. Vaseehar said:
“Research on the characteristics of Malay leadership is of national importance. Key is the fact that for more than forty years, the Malaysian government has been grappling with this issue in an effort to establishing long term, sustainable peace and economic prosperity in the country.”
The Malays Are Successful Political Leaders
‘The Malay Leadership Mystique’ showcased a paradox – that the very Malays who were branded as incapable business leaders were conversely over the years, successful in providing political leadership to the country which made Malaysia an economic success story.
The impact of an appropriate and pragmatic political leadership played a critical role which cannot be disregarded and Malaysia could not have achieved the economic success it enjoys today, sans this political leadership.
Through Dato Dr. Vaseehar Hassan’s multi-method approach which draws on cultural studies, focus groups expert panel interviews and theories of large group psychology, the book seeks to explain how the historical context of feudalism and colonialism have shaped Malay leadership qualities.
Leadership In Business Still A Challenge
Dato Dr. Vaseehar Hassan spoke to various leaders in both political and business worlds. Based on the focus group discussion and the expert panel interviews, some of the key themes that emerged as impediments to Malay leadership in business are:
- Malay culture of feudalism which led to the dependency and subsidy mentalities.
- Lack of experience and appropriate training.
- Politicians’ desire to perpetuate the handout system leading to corruption.
- Education not tailored to improve Malay acumen in business.
- The inability of the Malays to compete with the experienced and hardworking Chinese because of lack of adequate training and appropriate education and misguided religious beliefs and conflicts.
Amid a backdrop of regression, other weaknesses surfaced which contributed to the failure of the Malays in business. These include the failure of the government to recognise that creating successful Malay business leaders is an adaptive challenge, not a technical issue which could be solved merely by providing the Malays with licenses and finance.
Other factors include the beneath-the-surface racial relations and competition from the well-entrenched Chinese entrepreneurs who, through their own subtle ways, check-mate the Malay advancement in business.
Some thoughts and reflections for future work have been offered in this research to address the past failures unearthed in this research. As this research is only exploratory in nature, further rigorous testing and a deeper reflection is key in making that quantum leap in ferreting answers which could help the Malays, as a people, overcome challenges and lay claim to economic and political success.
The official book launch of ‘The Malay Leadership Mystique’ was held on December 1st, 2016 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tan Sri Dato Seri Utama Arshad Ayub, Chairman, Board of Directors University Malaya launched the book during the event and 200 Malay leaders from both the public and private sectors were in attendance.