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SETTING UP OF MARDI (Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute) and the opportunity to direct the RRIM (Rubber

Research Institute, Malaysia). One of the few lessons learnt in my career stint in MARDI and the then world renowned RRIM was the inadequacy of research staff trained in the right disciplines and at the desired levels. There was still this Colonial hangover by some of the board members that scientific practices in a developing country like Malaysia were at such a low level that graduates with a minimum exposure to science and technology were adequate enough to guide the country in its scientific and technological development. To me this was faulty reasoning and had to be addressed and addressed quickly. There were some heated debates in the Board room on this matter. It was pointed out that it was unreasonable to expect those trained through the first degree levels to have the depth of understanding in any of the specialized fields to enable them to plan and guide effective research. Research capability, including the competence to identify the nature of the problems and the planning of experiments to solve them, is developed usually in training through to the post graduate levels. The importance of the massive investment in Human Intellectual Capital, never seen in the 75 years history of the RRIM at that time was based on a simple yet profound concept: The ultimate competitive advantage of the RRIM would come from a single imperative---our ability to grow and develop our Human Intellectual Capital faster than the others. The quicker we got every single person in the Institute trained to enhance his/her performance, the quicker we would be in the forefront of research. The aim was to upgrade our staff fast and develop a culture of excellence before others did. I must acknowledge here that the late B.C. Sekhar, as Controller of the Rubber Board, gave me a free hand in this exercise. However, there were objections raised and they came from the most unexpected quarters---the Malay members representing the Estate sector and the representative from the Dept. of Agriculture saying that I was producing Tin-Can PhDs as the scientists were trained outside the UK in universities in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany,

Holland, New Zealand, US and even Poland. To be sure there were some heated arguments but good sense prevailed at the end and I got my way. The Tin-Can PhDs from the Institute eventually were the ones who helped run the Agricultural based organizations namely the Oil Palm and Natural Rubber Industries, Universities and even the Telecoms. Despite our past prominence in driving research in natural rubber, we allowed our focus to be diverted elsewhere instead of improving research systems and research governance: we defaulted by leaving research leadership to technical illiterates. An effective and innovative research system requires a cadre of professionals with advanced skills and mindsets. In retrospect, Malaysia should have gone into joint ventures to plant rubber outside the country as is happening with the oil palm. We could import the raw material back to this country for value added export products as we have the management and technical expertise, and the capital needed to produce them. However we have lost the initiative and the expertise. Now the research is low-keyed, more of a care and maintenance basis. The time I spent at the RRIM was incredible. It gave me an opportunity to help others shine. All I cared about was doing my part to help the staff get to their greatness, to encourage them find happiness at home and make their mark in their careers. ONLY A LIFE LIVED FOR OTHERS IS A LIFE WORTH LIVING.(Append below some letters received from ex-RRIM staff and others)

BEAUTIFUL, AND FANTASTIC. SHORT BUT BEAUTIFUL. ALOT TO REFLECT, ESPECIALLY THE LAST PARA. WELL DONE. Coincidently as I was writing the above I got a SMS from Harun Zain ( Hajjah Kenal Dia, bekas pegawai Pertanian)stating the following. ' Salam. Ada baca surat Ani Arope dlm Star ms 39.'

From: Hafsah Jaafar [hafsahjaafar@gmail.com] Sent: 16 February 2010 13:04 To: Ani Arope Subject: Re: My stint in MARDI AND THE RRIM Salam Pak Haji, Yes you have done your part well and I am one of the recipients. Your contribution is amal jariah and you will be rewarded even more in Akhirat . Your present good health and good thinking is a reward that not everyone like your age has. I am so proud to be attached to you and all those who know you feel the same. Push was here in my uni last week as a consultant member of ISP. UDM is starting an M.Sc. in Plantation Management, so ISP was invited to have some links and input. The course maybe able to take off in 2012. Md Noor is heading the program. Push is so very fond of you because he said you sent him to do his Ph D . Salam to Hajjah and the children. hafsah PS. "Tin can" PhD s are not empty cans they are doctors of philosophies, with brains that think. People are free to comment about us post grads from Belgium . A comment is not harmful and he now knows that many of us have made to the top and mid level executives in this country. We have proven ourselves so we dont care what others have to say. We think ahead of them and make the country and RRIM etc world class organizations. I think that comment had a good effect on us because it made us straighten our ties and lifted our heads and chins. That was one of the reasons that made me shine. I was out to prove my worth and I have instilled that drive into my students. They will continue the desire to excel that you instilled into me.


Assalamualaikum. I feel touched, inspired and proud of the anecdote written by Tan Sri. Touched because it came from the heart, inspired because there is a lot of rich experience that others can emulate and proud because Tan Sri is a Malaysian and it clearly demonstrates the adage of "Malaysia Boleh". I am very fortunate to have crossed my path with such a great man in his own right, a man who had selflessly contributed to the country's human capital development before everyone else began seriously craving for it. I would like to reiterate a small personal story that reinforces Tan Sri's unrelenting effort in helping others (who, in my case, he knew nothing about at that time) to realise their goals and dreams. After one month and comfortably settling down in The beautiful city of Leuven, University Malaya, my employer demanded that I return home because KUL was not in the JPA's recognised list of universities at the time. I have two choices; either to come home or continue to stay in Leuven on my own expenses (of course the latter is not really an option). To make matters worse, I just got married and brought my wife along with me. At that time I didn't know Tan Sri. But luckily, I told my story to Dr Ariffin, (En Ariffin then), and he promised to ask Tan Sri's help to resolve the matter. Thank you very much Tan Sri, about a few weeks later, UM informed me that I was allowed to continue my studies fully sponsored by UM on a personal-to-holder basis until the recognition issue was resolved by JPA. After that brief hiccup, I really enjoyed my stay in Leuven and benefited immensely from it. These are the main things that I have achieved in my 2- year stay there:

1. I picked up tennis and when I came back and became the national champion in the government services (MAKSAK) competitions for several years; 2. Picked up bowling and became a national bowler representing Malaysia for 10 years (1984-1993). Won a bronze medal in 1991 Manila SEA Games; 3. Picked up a daughter, born on May 1, 1997; She is now an executive with Petronas. 4. Picked up some Flemish and still can converse in it though with very limited vocabulary now; and 5. Picked up my MBA (Finance) with a Magna Cum Laud which among other things has enabled me to contribute positively to the setting up Open University Malaysia (OUM) and its subsequent rapid growth and tremendous success. So Tan Sri, because of your effort in enabling me to continue studies in Belgium, I had achieved all of the above and more. For that I am eternally grateful to Tan Sri. May I wish Tan Sri a continuing healthy and enjoyable life. Concerning your age, please do not worry for we have this saying at OUM: "Age does not matter as long as what matters does not age". Salam hormat Tan Sri. Harun Zain (OPEN UNIVERSITY KL)Sent via BlackBerry Attached today's letter in the Star. Only one in a million dare to do it and sees the end results. PTD (the Tech illiterate) really mess us up! ex RRIM Salam TS Pak Haji Ani: Allah knows best your intention to help others succeed without being selfish. You've been well rewarded and we have all witnessed your illustrious career. You're still the smart and jovial character highly respected by many in all quarters. We envy your leadership qualities

and the fatherly figure for those that have benefited from your training program. Many individuals under your training camp have/had made it successfully in their career and life, even after they have retired and being recycled save waiting for time to turn to be decompose! Hope you're in good health. Zainab is adjusting to Perlis lifestyle, albeit slow but good for a healthy life for those pass the 60's. Salam to Hajjah. Tq. Bye Othman n Zainab from

Tan Sri, Having associated with you during those critical years and pushing the frontier that properly educated and trained Malaysians can promote technical service worldwide for Malaysian rubber more effectively if not better than our European , Australian and Japanese colleagues, I embarked on the mission to Italy and USA to work with local rubber industries. The appreciation shown by the Italian and US rubber industries for upgrading their knowledge and use of Malaysian natural rubber gives great satisfaction and pride. Your successful effort to invest in the development of human intellectual capital despite of initial hurdles from unexpected quarters and, more importantly, your selection of officers from a Diverse Pool of Malaysians should be highlighted and commended. KK (Hon Kok Kee, MRB Rep. in Washington, USARetired) Dear Tan Sri I read all your touching articles. I believe many RRIM staff that had been given opportunities under your leadership will enjoy reading your articles too.

I always believe - GOD BLESS THOSE WHO HELP OTHERS! Keep up your good deed. Regards Jasmine Yong Pak Ani, You certainly make my day by sending this writing of yours. As if you read my interest in many disciplines, I am a true believer in putting our hearts and souls, every drop of our intelligent sweat into world class research entity. You put yourself in the right 'parking spot' by writing to the press. I hope you will continue to do so in the near future, in whatever areas that you fancy! My admiration to you! Cheers! Raudhah

Dear Tan Sri, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the efforts you have made to help many of us Malaysians. I for one am very thankful for you kind assistance. May the good Lord bless you and your family always. Esah (Dr. Esaah Yip, MRB Rep .Washington, USA) Dear Tan Sri, ASM. Someone forwarded your article as per above and I have read it with much interest. But I think you have been extremely modest in sharing your experience. For many, if not most of us, who have had the opportunity to serve you as well as to look up to you as our 'godfather', we all feel that your contribution to our generation is far more immense. For a

few who could not meet your expectation ('sink or swim'), your effort has perhaps gone unappreciated. I was perhaps one of them early on, being naive and with too much expectation! But thank goodness, Allah has open my eyes and heart to see the goodness in you. To this day I still do feel ashamed of myself and guilt whenever you are in my presence. The impact of your contribution would probably go beyond our generation. My Allah forgive me for my insolence and bestow His Blessing on you Tan Sri. Our salaam to you and Puan Sri.

My emotional and loving congratulations to the little boy cycling on a bike too big for him to sit on the picture so vivid in my mind !! God Bless You and keep you going in top gear for many many years to ome. Hkv(.Dr Harbans Kuar Virik) "Congrats to you Tan Sri for the wonderful letter in the Star today. I just wish to add that RRIM for many years just fail to see the bigger picture....the significance of smallholdings, the economic impact of China, eastern Europe and India, tyre research....The leaders wasted a lot of time dismantling the essence of R&D, and it is painful to see the desecration of research culture especially from 2000 onwards."Zainol A lot more people owe you to be where they are today than those responded to your posting. I am one of them who benefited from your "touch". THANK YOU TAN SRI, only ALLAH SWT can adequately repay you for your vast contributions. Wassalam,

A. Zaidee Laidin On Sat, Jun 12, 2010 Tan Sri, My family and I wish to thank you to making me what I am today! I marvel at your honesty, sincerity and commitment to put your heart and soul in believing that we can do it! In any institution or corporation, leadership is the most important critical success factors to drive the human potential positively forward. But, we need good lieutenants to realise the dream. You recognised this earlier than the Nation did! How unfortunate! During my years at RRIM and Guthrie, we did clash on some issues....I am indeed proud to have a mentor and friend who also share and believe there are more strengths and opportunities in diversity than threats and weaknesses. Am also proud that the business brings us together. And it is an honour for me to have Mak Aji and your family on board as the shareholders of WSA Capital Corps, the company that I established. Best and Kind Regards Wan & Yati.