Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address below.

Sakmongkol ak 47

Thursday 4 December 2008

The Tyrany of Uniforms and the MAS Bully Boys

I have written something on the tyranny of uniforms. The gist of my post there was: Lesser persons assume a different personality when they put on uniforms. Its like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde syndrome. Soekarno the Indonesian leader, was among politicians who capitalised on the majority of people’s obsession with uniforms. Soekarno knew psychology. Perhaps that too explained his prowess with the fairer sex. When asked, why he is normally in uniforms, bedecked with medals and complete with baton, he replied, the Indonesian people are so depressed , they need a strong figure who symbolises strength and security.

Equally possible too, is the preference for inadequate people to compensate their shortcomings and lacking by wearing uniforms. People try to compensate their shortcomings by masking them. Uniforms tend to hide most. The sombre the better, the more elaborate portrays a sense of grandeur. The peon in uniform holds the power to make files disappear or appear on the officers’ desk quickly. The city council enforcement officers in military-like garb appear so officious and authoritative.

Uniforms allow the wearer to assume vastly different personality. In social psychology much has been written about the process of stepping out. See for example:- Stepping out : the making of Chinese entrepreneurs / Chan Kwok Bun, Claire Chiang See Ngoh. The typical Chinese entrepreneur projects an image of what he wants to become and then steps out from his current shell. He works to attain the projected image and the process of attaining involves a series of stepping out.

I suppose, the uniform confers on the wearer a projected image too. Such as an authoritarian master, a task master, an enforcer. The wearer steps out to assume that projected image. Once accomplished, the projected role is played to an extreme degree.

The negative part of that is, it gives middling and pedestrian people the power and authority to abuse others, ,ill-treat people. It gives the uniform wearer a artificial sense of superiority.

Perhaps this psychological defect among middling and pedestrian people is typified in the security personnel working for MAS. Apart from MAB, MAS employs security men who are either in uniforms or in plain clothes. The plainclothes security men for example, are responsible for the cabin cleaners of the MAS planes .

Please indulge me in my narration. A few days ago, I was at the KLIA. By any measure, KLIA is a first world facility. MAS has a fleet of world class airplanes. Combined, Malaysia offers travellers a first world facility.

I called a friend wanting to meet up with him. He works as a MAS planes cabin cleaner in KLIA. He is perhaps the most qualified cabin cleaner in the whole of Malaysia. He has a MBA from an Australian university. He even has a professional certificate in cleaning. In order to make ends meet, he has chosen to do an honest work. Demeaning for him, but honest. Perhaps on another day, if he were lucky enough and got noticed, he could even be a better MD than Idris Jala. What’s there to shout for achieving profitability by axing so many people, selling off crown jewels?. Coming from the same industry and from the same company he came from, I wouldn’t rush in to confer accolades too heavy for his shoulders to bear. Chill out boys! .

He should spend time looking at the front liners working for him. The painted faces manning ticket counters are OK. But what about the bully boys wearing the sombre uniforms and the plain clothes security men looking after the planes and cabin cleaners.? They give a bad name to MAS.

We don’t want MAS security people running around and bullying their own people. The uniforms and the security IDs do not give them a right to be abusive to workers even though they are not of the same level. The security personnel of MAS have chosen the wrong person to bully. Yes, I regret to say as does my friend, that the security personnel of MAS are their bully boys. They give a bad name to MAS.

This friend of mine says cabin cleaning personnel working for MAS are treated like mangy dogs. They are verbally and sometimes physically abused. Their bags would be emptied on the floor without any trace of respect. Your personal things would be strewn on the floor. The Security men would motion you with their fingers to do their biddings.

My friend is a Malay and yet he has certainly learnt the real meaning of racism. The security personnel admonished my friend saying, that if he were an Indian migrant worker, he would be carted off in a lorry to the illegal immigrants detention centre. This kind of incendiary remark can only suggest that Indians and other immigrant workers are actually harshly treated. .

And so my friend, with his MBA( honestly obtained) has decided to put up a fight for his rights. His rights to be treated decently as a Malaysian citizen. He decided to confront the security officers about the abusive and ill mannered treatments. Cabin Cleaners have endured cruel and disrespectful treatment. Security guards would confront a hapless cleaner with their menacing officiousness and their regulation supplied black spectacles. The kind that is used by policemen to enhance their menacing demeanour.

My friend has decided to quit in protest. But he has also prepared a letter addressed to Idris Jala to give a fuller account. Let us hope, Idris Jala will spend some time mending the 3rd class mentality at the front lines. We wouldn’t want these bully boys to downgrade our first class facility, would we?


Pak Zawi 4 December 2008 at 19:18  

Datok Sak,
Does security come under MAS? Maybe it is the responsibility of MAB who runs the airport.

Ariff Sabri 4 December 2008 at 20:05  

pak zawi,

thank you brother. i have made corrections in my post. i meant the security people employed by MAS to look after their planes and cabin cleaners.
the MAB security people oversees security over airports.

de minimis 4 December 2008 at 20:40  

bro sak

The man does not make the uniform. The uniform makes the man. And, if the man is a petty-minded fool with a sadistic bent, then, woe betide those among us who cross their path.

I truly hope that Idris Jala will remedy this state of affairs. Otherwise the security guys may even start using anal prods with any elongated implement that comes in handy just to abuse their power, though it may be that 1 in 100 may actually find this experience pleasurable :D

But don't take my word for it. Statistics isn't my strongest suit.

mamasita 4 December 2008 at 21:27  

Now I believe that this could be one of the reasons why our locals refuse to work such jobs, and we have to bring in foreign workers who can tolerate such disrespect!You've got the wrong guy you big bullies!Hes so much more highly educated than you and just because he took up the cleaning cabin job,you think you're so smart!So watch out the next time!It might be the transport minister himself in disguise!

zooky 4 December 2008 at 23:33  

I am both angry and sad. Angry that they could mete such treatment to the so-called "menial class". Sad that this is happening at MAS, our national carrier.

Don't these bullies have supervisors? Or are the supervisors cut from the same cloth, er, uniform?

Anonymous,  4 December 2008 at 23:37  

I am one your ardent fan and critics and I have been wondering when are you going to write about MAS. Now my wish has come true. Thank you, Datuk.

"Perhaps on another day, if he were lucky enough and got noticed, he could even be a better MD than Idris Jala. What’s there to shout for achieving profitability by axing so many people, selling off crown jewels"

Idris Jala is just Munir's stool. Eventhough he is supposedly an IR expert he knows NUTS about managing people and knows BANANAS about running an airline.

He introduced the Whistleblowers programme and many staff have written to him but nobody was ever called up for further investigation.

Please study MAS 5 years financial performance. You will discover that in FY2007, there was RM 3.7 Billion capital injection (in comparison, the RM 2 billion Eurocopter and the recent EPF RM 2 billion equity loss is nothing to shout about)

I am waiting for the right platform and time to go public.
We shall converge, Datuk

zorro 5 December 2008 at 01:21  

Sak, I featured you as my Friday Guest Blogger. My readers deserve this treat.

Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 02:17  

Grotesque indeed for this display of animal instincts within a designated territory by persons in uniform on hapless souls - the cleaners. To convert those bent on being walking "bangang" (imbecile, for those who need help with this term) into progressive Malaysians, our children, raised by nanny-cum-cleaner-cum-cook-cum-gardener all for RM450 a month, will have to treasure the work put up by these domestic helpers. At the malls, smile at those cleaners most people expect to sidle away. Try not raise your voice when that South Indian chap or a Nepalese assigned to deliver your teh-tarik paling-kao appeared to have been held up.
Offer them encouragements. Then, we will begin to acquire culture, and respect the details of maintenance. Higher causes will be a natural pursuit. It is decency that nurtures transparency, accountability and egalitarian virtues. Thank you, Sak, for showcasing this microcosm of things that could go very wrong in society. Yes, those MAB supervisory elements who lord over the cleaners, were a product of a different generation than those kids shouting orders at the domestic helpers right now. Those men in uniform bossing around people they perceive to be inferior to them were raised at a time we thought we had quantities of sopan santun by moms who were homemakers.

Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 03:34  

Salam Dato'.

I remembered during my student days, I've never taken MAS whenever going back during holidays - heard stories about how different its stewardesses would layan us lowly budget constraint students as compared to those mat sallehs. But hey,those stories may be just that, stories... but that was the general feeling back then.
Nowadays whenever I travel on MAS, it feels like .... cheap. The multicoloured seats (mmm... could afford coach only) do nothing to uplift my mood. And everything seems to be in a hurry; the safety procedure demo macam tangkap muat je, asal buat. Then whenever I take SIA,oh man... heaven.
Should passangers' comfort be sacrificed for the sake of turnaround? (which, if I might add nothing to shout about, as dato sak said). For those people who don't mind paying a bit extra for comfort and/or don't care about supporting the national carrier, they would probably look elsewhere in choosing which airline to take.


mekyam 5 December 2008 at 04:41  

agree with everyone, tok sak.

the measure of budi pekerti and hemah tinggi is how we treat those less fortunate.

this looking down on those who do manual labour is a trait found in many hierarchical societies. however, the jerk-beruniform syndrome is not particular to malaysia only.

tapi, since we keep telling ourselves how sopan santun we are as a people, not to mention boasting about it to everyone all over the world via our tourism offices, i think it's high time lah we give it some creds.


p.s. to tok sak...

i mean no disrespect, but your other half is one delightful nut! her latest entry cracked me up sampai i choked on my coffee this morning. :D

Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 10:39  

Like your post!

Just a question - why do the strong dislike of Idris Jala?

Idris has done his part to 'bring up' Mas from the edge of death. Despite the many claims & more so that he is not an 'airline' man. Can anyone fault Carl- Henric Svanberg's revival of Ericsson because he is not a Telco man?

Can someone do any better despite all those claims of his 'financial acrobats'?

One should look at the end result & the means to achieve that r just the means, as the prevalent circumstances demand.

BTW, isn't it a fact that there r a lot of 'untouchables' within Mas & most of them r there because of 'know-whos'.

The symptom u described will not disappeared unless an efficient & fearless top management is given a full authority to do their jobs.

Honestly can such thing happen in Mas? More so when the Ceo is not of the right kind!


Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 11:12  

Hi Gwlnet,
"Can someone do any better despite all those claims of his 'financial acrobats'?"

Do you know that our country has lost RM 330 billion for the last 15years due to LEAKAGES.

A retired judge told me that even an idiot who got that much money could have built the PETRONAS Twin Towers (RM2 billions), KLIA Airport (10 Billions), Putrajaya (10 billions)etc,etc.

"Honestly can such thing happen in Mas? More so when the Ceo is not of the right kind!"

Please do not start this has nothing to do with "kind".

Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 12:02  


Right, idiots can do wonders if there is a sugar-daddy.

But u have not answer my question!

Jala comes in to revive a dying 'patient' & there was insufficient money in that 'kiddie' as most of the 'assets' were already parted during that 'brilliant' WAU scheme.

There couldn't be fire-sale! No big retrenchment! There is no 'leakage' money to spare. Its a very difficult financial 'salvages' & yet he pulled through.

Let give credit where credit is due. No point talking about hind-sight now, too.

BTW I don't agree about yr take about - 'kind'. There is no any other tone except this was/is the hard fact of any GLCs operation.


Navi 5 December 2008 at 15:18  

Forgive me for straying away from the subject. But I would like your views on Mukriz doing an about turn when he comments that his call for the dismantling of the vernacular schools was based on the Razak report. And to think tha all the time I was under the impression that Mukriz had finally come up with a plan to change the scenario in our somewhat haphazard education system.
As a leading contender for the leadership of the youth wing of UMNO, I would have thought that Mukriz would stand by his statements rather throwing excuses of being wrongly quoted and now of relying on the Razak report for support. Be your own man and stand by your convictions. That's my message to Mukriz; convictions if any he has.
Your comments please. Thank you.

Unknown 5 December 2008 at 15:27  

I have witnessed such tyranny of uniform type before. This type of people cant be given even a little authority for they will abuse it to the tilt.

having said that, why leave? have your friend contemplated staying on and fight before throwing in the towel?

i think not all security are bully boys - so if your friend can stay and highlight the case the non bully in the group will be exonerated.

surely the few bully boys have supervisors or manager they report to?

isnt there a union chapter that he can talk to to voice his grievances and bring justice back?

but of course this is just my humble opinion without having much facts on my hand.

thanks for an excellent article.. i hope you can also talk about "others" in uniform or plain clothes esp those living "up the hill"


Anonymous,  5 December 2008 at 22:11  

You and a few other Pahang bloggers are mentioned in Malay Mail today. There is also the title in the Internet of Malay Mail

mekyam 6 December 2008 at 00:34  

[sak, this OT. just to let you know that doc finally hoisted his jolly roger anew. check out how he got all idle hands on deck. in the carib, no less, and with a lady pirate as cap'n.]

mamasita 6 December 2008 at 01:32  

Hai mekyam,thank you so much for the booster!If not for you,sak had forgotten he married a delightful nut!(ahem!)..hopefully lepasni dia jadi amorous to me all over again!Wohooo!hahaha

Mat Cendana 6 December 2008 at 20:00  

Now that comment was hilarious! haha!
BTW was having connection problems yesterday - Internet AND handphone Sigh... Will have to seriously consider having a backup despite the added expenditure - my work depends on these two modes of communications.

Thanks to Mekyam for providing the link. I'll definitely check - and it right now too.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP