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HR Minister urges rethink in transport industry. TRANSIT: Wait until you see his suggestion. (Update #1)

Update: The Minister of Transport has also chimed in with his view that bus operators need to improve their human resources before looking at foreign workers! See the new article at the bottom of this post

TRANSIT took note of this interesting article in which the Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam responds to a request from the management of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB), Malaysia’s largest transport conglomerate, which runs the familiar Transnasional, CityLiner, PlusLiner and Nice bus services.

Corporate Structure of Konsortium Transnasional Berhad (KTB). Image courtesy of KTB.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

KTB had requested that they be allowed to hire foreign workers to, presumably, deal with a shortage of properly trained, responsible bus drivers.

Re-think strategy, transport bosses urged (The Star)

6 August 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: It has become a trend among employers in the transport industry to recruit foreign workers as a quick solution to their human resource woes, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

[TRANSIT: Not exactly … foreign workers are not legal in the transport industry so how could this be a trend?]

He said the industry should however reconsider its system of hiring and managing drivers.

“Malaysian employers should stop this and re-think on how to modernise their human resource management so that it is relevant to the current situation,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

[TRANSIT: What does that actually mean? Treat drivers like real employees? But according to the old CVLB Act (which managed the industry for so many years) they are not employees, but rather, independent contractors! If the industry is to update itself, it needs the support of the government, not their criticism!]

Dr Subramaniam was commenting on a proposal by the country’s biggest express bus company Konsortium Transnational Bhd to allow them to hire foreigners as a way of overcoming a shortage of drivers and weed out reckless ones.

He said the industry should also take a look at some issues, such as proper education and training of drivers, inculcating safety, adequate social benefits and a fair and just remuneration system.

[TRANSIT: The response from the industry will be simple … we can do all of that if you allow us to raise fares. What TRANSIT wants to see is the stakeholders coming together and planning solutions. For example, setting up an institute for driver training similar to RapidPenang’s Rapid Academy.]

“Putting the entire blame of the industry’s inadequacies on the attitude of drivers is unfair. Attitudes are creations of the work environment, and poor environments create poor attitudes and vice versa. Bernama


There are many problems in the transport industry. These problems are slowly being resolved. Unfortunately, comments like the ones from the Human Resources Minister above, and the Minister of Transport below, do not create an atmosphere of mutual support & respect.

TRANSIT fully agrees that operators need to improve the industry and the industry needs to be “right-sized” and made more efficient. We would also prefer to see this led by the industry itself. At the same time, we believe that the government needs to resolve the issues in the industry and set up clear policy and expectations … and ensure that bus operators can follow the policy and meet the expectations.

‘Foreign drivers not the answer’ (NST, 5 August 2011)

By Suganthi Suparmaniam

KUALA LUMPUR: Hiring foreigners to work as bus drivers is not the solution to the problems faced by bus companies, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha yesterday.

He said bus companies should not use the lack of discipline among drivers as an excuse to hire foreign drivers.

“Bus operators are responsible for the discipline of their drivers. They cannot make a convenient statement like this so as to find an excuse to hire foreign workers.

“If we were to allow foreign bus drivers, what is there to stop lorry, school bus and taxi operators from demanding the same? Where are we going to draw the line?”

Kong said too many sectors in the country were using such excuses to hire foreign workers.

He said bus operators needed to look after the welfare of their drivers, which in turn would boost their morale and improve their performance.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the transport industry should look at the way drivers are hired and managed before proposing to bring in foreigners to do the job.

He said the ministry would also need to study issues like education, training, safety, social security benefits and a fair system of remuneration.

“Putting the blame for the sector’s inadequacies solely on the attitude of the drivers is unfair.

“Attitudes are creations of the work environment. Poor environment creates poor attitudes and vice versa ,” he said yesterday.

He added that it had been a trend among employers to look for foreign workers as a quick fix to their human resource management woes.

“Malaysian employers should re-look their management style so that it is relevant to the current situation.”

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selva Raj agreed with Dr Subramaniam and called on industry players and regulators to look into the financial model of the public transport industry.

“They need to come up with a model where bus companies can make decent money and give good salaries to the drivers.

“Many bus companies are closing down or cutting down their services. The government needs to address their plight soon,” he added.

On Thursday, the bus companies floated a proposal whereby they sought permission to hire foreigners as drivers to overcome shortages and to weed out reckless drivers.

They said the acute shortage of drivers had left them with no choice but to hire some of the worst drivers.

They had hoped to be allowed to hire drivers from countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Konsortium Transnational Bhd executive director Tengku Hasmadi Tengku Hashim said reckless drivers and those who received too many summonses for speeding were fired, but because of the shortage of drivers, they would easily find employment with other bus companies.


The future of public transport in Malaysia is going to be based on the service model, but it also has to be a cooperative system where all stakeholder groups can and will work together.

Asking the operators to take steps towards improving the industry from within is not wrong. However, when the government suggests that operators should take the steps by themselves, and alone, this is unfair.

What do you, the user, think about the steps that need to be taken to improve the public transport industry and resolve the major issues (safety, work environment, operator revenue, fares) that the industry is facing.

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