Banker with an eye on human behaviour
Han Kar Kay | 03 Feb 2017 00:30
Vaseehar wrote the book The Malay Leadership Mystique which analyses the qualities of Malay leaders using a clinical approach
Datuk Dr Vaseehar Hassan Abdul Razack is – first and foremost – a banker. He spent years in investment banking, and later became one of the leading figures in the development of Islamic finance.

He is the founding chairman of RHB Islamic Bank, making him the face of Islamic finance in the country. But his pursuits are not confined to the financial services business. He is also a qualified clinical psychologist with a special interest in psychodynamics which is, by definition, the “study of the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mental and emotional forces that determine a personality and motivation”.

Nonetheless, it is his interest in Malay leadership that may define him today. Although not into politics, Vaseehar is, admittedly, quite fascinated with what makes a Malay a leader. In fact, his interest in Malay leadership is so deep-rooted that he recently authored a book on the subject.

The book, entitled The Malay Leadership Mystique, was launched by Tan Sri Dr Arshad Ayub, the pro-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on Dec 1 last year.

In his book, Vaseehar aims to “unearth the mystique qualities among Malay leaders”. He says he chose to dig deeper and go beneath the surface to understand the Malays better by taking into consideration their value system.

He highlights several salient features of the Malay character from three approaches, including the historical and cultural points of view. The book discusses the culture of the Malays as it intertwines with Islam, feudalism and colonial experiences to explore the intricacies of leadership in Malaysia.

He examines the reasons for the failure of Malays in business pursuits despite their success in managing the country.

Vaseehar says that in the original presentation of his dissertation – which was later to become material for his book – he intended to look into why Malay leaders were politically astute yet lagged behind in business leadership.

“Beneath the surface, 90% of the time we do certain things without realising why. Clinical psychology is based on the fact that we do things unconsciously. We need to understand the rational for us behaving that way,” he says.

He also elaborates on the five principles of “clinical paradigm” which, he says, are the basis of the study of Malay leadership. “Perception isn’t reality because what you see is not necessarily what you get. We all have our blind spots. Oftentimes, human beings are quick to criticise when it comes to somebody else but we do not know our own faults,” he adds.

Turn to pages 04-05 for the full story in the latest issue of Focusweek.

Download and read more in the latest issue of Focus Malaysia here:
Malaysia salary increase to remain stable in 2020

Overall salary increase forecast for Malaysia remains stable at 5%.