The company sought an insertion in the diary section of newspapers. In other words, while the company was charging participants, including human resources managers, it wanted free advertisement at the same time.
The timing of both statements which were not used by the mainstream newspapers is questionable.
The union is making demands when most companies have become poorer as a result of the stock market plunge. Operations cost has shot up because of the depreciation of the ringgit.
At a time when most companies have talked about downsizing an euphemism for retrenchment unions are unlikely to have much bargaining clout.
Although the manufacturing and plantation sectors are still labour intensive, many Malaysian companies have put a freeze on recruitment, preparing themselves for the economic uncertainties of the coming months.
The last thing a company wants is to commit itself to more spending, if unjustified.
A cursory look at most newspapers' recruitment advertisement section, which has become smaller would give an indication of the situation.
Such is the predicament of the average Malaysian wage-earner.
Workers have been told to expect lower increments, less overtime and even retrenchment if the economic situation continues to slide.
While most workers are likely to be reasonable, there will be cases of rogue employers who will take advantage of the present economic climate to instil unnecessary fear among their workers.
It is here that the leadership, the press, the employers and unions have to play a responsible role by disseminating the right information to create a climate of confidence without being unrealistic at the same time.
The political leadership would have to implement more confidence-boosting measures.
Statements from leaders would have to be consistent because contradictory stands would only send the wrong signals to jittery investors and confuse everyone.
Political rhetoric would have to take a back seat for now the priority is to nurse the economy back to health.
While they are answerable to the various interest groups under their respective ministries, our leaders should remind themselves that their commitment is to the average Ahmad, Ah Beng and Muthu.
The press must play a pivotal role by separating fact from rumour, especially concerning the share market.
The fact that some of the vicious rumours have been proven wrong again and again has not stopped even the well-informed from being duped. Local stock market pundits are sometimes ridiculously gullible.
For the wage-earner, it is time to be thrifty and realise that no one is certain of what's coming.
With 1998 just weeks ahead, it's best that Malaysians remind themselves of the need to cut costs, increase savings and ensure a steady income. Hold on to your job, forget about job-hopping.
If you have just moved into a new house, make minimum renovation. Forget about spending RM20,000 for a modern kitchen if you hardly cook or only use the “wet area'' at the back, like many middle-class families do.
Go easy on the air-conditioner, the hot shower, telephone calls, credit-card purchases and other non-essential items.
Rethink your plan to spend Christmas and Gongxi Raya holidays abroad. Even if the package tour is affordable, the currency exchange alone will set you back.
Ask yourself whether you really need a vacation in the first place. If you must, holiday locally. If you consider our local hotel rates too costly, then put up with relatives and friends.
If you have to eat out, go for value for money. Hawker fare is still cheaper than restaurant spread and fast food.
Car-pooling was something Malaysians, especially those in the Klang Valley, used to sneer at. Perhaps it's time to put it into practice.
It's not just the petrol consumption; think about the wear and tear on your vehicle and the maintenance bill. Do you really need to buy a car, now that the loan interest rate is 10%?
Avoid spending. Save.
Take advantage of the high interest rates offered by banks. Shop around for a good conservative local bank and save in fixed deposits.
Foreign banks should not profit by default at a time when we need to support our own financial institutions.
These things we do will help us get over the rough part of our journey. We have to slow down our driving, by projecting a lower growth rate of 5%, but we will still reach our destination.